Special to The Morning Star
The last few years have been hard on many in our community, but some pets have had an even harder time of it. Local animal rescue groups are overflowing with more and more abandoned and surrendered animals, as people find they are unable to afford the cost of their beloved pets, have to relocate for work or move to less expensive accommodations that don’t allow pets, have had health issues, and many other reasons that they just can’t meet their pets’ needs anymore.
How can you help? Please consider giving rescued animals the gift of life this holiday season!
Local rescue organizations need donations of all kinds. Funds for food and medical expenses are usually the greatest needs, but check with your favourite group to see what you can help with. Many groups need volunteers and/or foster homes for rescued pets. There are also “pet-food banks” and “spay/neuter and emergency medical programs” that assist pet owners, so that they can keep their pets during a difficult time.
If you are thinking of adopting a new pet, great, but please wait until after the holidays to bring a new friend into your home. The Christmas holidays are often very stressful, busy and hectic times and generally the worst time for pets to try to adjust to their new surroundings, especially baby animals.
If you still want that “under-the-tree” experience, try picking out your new pet before the holidays and putting their picture in a frame, make a video, get a similar stuffed animal, etc. Most shelters will allow you to pick out a new pet and hold them for you until after the holidays, when things are quieter and less stressful for all concerned. You can usually make arrangements with a shelter to bring the whole family in for a special outing to pick out your new pal or pals.
The decision to bring home a new pet should be a happy one, but unfortunately, sometimes people make “impulse” decisions to get a new pet without really having given the idea a lot of thought and/or have no experience in caring for an animal. Often, these arrangements don’t work out and the pet is often given away, surrendered to a rescue group or just abandoned, as if pets are “disposable,” like so many things in our society.
If you are thinking you would like to adopt a companion animal, but aren’t sure about it, please do some advance research into the demands of care for that type or breed of pet. It is important to make sure your new pet fits into your lifestyle. There are many knowledgeable people in the community that can provide you with information about your prospective new pet’s dietary, exercise, housing and medical care and costs.
If after researching, you still aren’t sure about what kind of pet to get, consider fostering an animal for a short time. Many rescued pets need special care or just a home until space is available at a shelter. This way, you can “try out” having a dog, cat, bird, rabbit, guinea pig for a few weeks/months, to see if it is a good fit for you. If it isn’t, well, you have helped an animal and now know that it doesn’t work. If it is a good fit, you can usually adopt the pet you have fostered or another that might be an even better fit.
If you have the time, love and space for a pet, but can’t manage the financial costs of having your own pet, you can also consider fostering. Most animal rescue organizations can provide the food and medical care for the fostered animal, if you cannot afford the expense.
If your circumstances don’t allow you to give an animal the ongoing, lifetime care it needs, then fostering is an excellent option. If you spend six months away every winter, you can offer to foster an animal for the time you have available.
As someone who has fostered and re-homed hundreds of rescued animals, I can honestly say it was worth every cent and minute of my time. Animals, especially rescued animals, give something to you that can’t be found anywhere else in life. I hope you take the opportunity to find out for yourself!
The following serve the North Okanagan and are no-kill rescue groups: Warren Peace Bunny Sanctuary (Oyama), call 250-470-3606 or see www.facebook.com/wpbsanctuary; Okanagan Humane Society, call 250-548-9293 or see www.okananganhumanesociety.ca; Vernon and District Animal Care Society, 250-542-7203 or see www.vernonanimalcare.com; Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge Society (Chase), call 1-250-679-2778 or see www.turtlevalleydonkeyrefuge.com
Maurie Deaton is a longtime advocate for animals in the North Okanagan.