Pet adoption replaces buying, love stops wandering
On a daily basis, dozens of animals become strays: In cases where someone wanted a guard dog, but got a gentle puppy, someone planned on animal breeding, but the animal turned out to be sick, someone did not want a pet at all - as it was only a gift, thus, the animal is thrown away. Animals may also become stray after the death of the owner, some of them get lost or are already born on the street. Each of them have their own story. In any case, the fact remains that an animal finds itself abandoned and unattended.
What can you do if you find a stray animal on the street? You might want to follow some of the steps listed below:
1. Take the animal to a safe place - to your own home, to friends’ home, or to a local animal shelter (in China some pet shops also provide temporary shelter for unwanted animals).
2. Check if the pet has an owner: The animal may be wearing a collar with the owner’s details, or it may have been microchipped.
3. If the animal is sick, take him to the veterinarian. The animal needs an examination, some tests, and a vaccination.
4. Report the lost animal on social media, such as on group chats of local communities or animal-themed public accounts. Post ads with photos with the description of the area where the animal was found. Both WeChat and Weibo social media platforms host a large number of these kinds of group chats and public accounts, and their number is rising gradually, as helping stray animals has recently become a popular trend in China. Missing out on one of these chats and accounts is almost impossible these days.
5. Find a new family for the animal. Take eye-catching photos of it, describe its character, indicate the city and your contact details (take care of your own safety though, not specifying the address). Bring the animal home to it’s new owner and discuss the plan of care.
6. Put the animal up in a local animal shelter.
Caring for animals has often been seen as a merciful act, but extremely complicated, especially on a large scale. In many countries, the formula “we are responsible for those we have tamed” is implemented in the form of shelters, where homeless dogs, cats, birds, and sometimes other animals are kept.
Shelters have several ultimate goals, the first of which is helping poor animals who have been found on the streets. The second goal is to attach animals to a house and a family. Many shelters, such as the Shanghai Stray Dog Rescue Center (上海流浪狗救助中心 in Chinese; despite the name, the Center also shelters animals other than dogs), provides comprehensive care to the animals to get them prepared for future adoption. Unfortunately, however benevolent the initial intentions are, if an animal is not adopted after a certain period, the shelter management resorts to euthanasia—there are many more people who want to bring an animal to the shelter than those who want to adopt them.
With that inhuman possibility in mind, some people may start to consider adopting a sheltered animal to save it from that inevitable fortune.
Adopting an animal
Before adopting a shelter animal, it’s not advisable to rush in and pick up the first dog you like in the shelter. Find out its story and ask if it has any physical or mental injuries, diseases or wild behavioral tendencies, as you don’t want these problems to come up unexpectedly in the future. Be aware that a sudden change of scenery by itself is a challenge for a street animal as it may respond with distrust, aggression, or panic, and your task is to make the adaptation process as comfortable as possible.
The animal you choose will become part of your family. It might be wise to choose a pet that suits you and your loved ones. The less experience you have in keeping animals, the more responsibly you should give to the choosing process. Even though you are not going to buy the pet, it is still worth getting to know your potential friend and understanding whether you both are suitable for each other. Otherwise, the noble desire to save the unfortunate creature will result in disappointment and can even end in you returning it to the shelter where it originally came from.
Another simple bit of advice is that you can take an animal with a character similar to yours. If you like hiking - take an energetic puppy or kitten, if you would rather a more relaxing pastime - take a more laid-back and mature animal.
Get your family ready for it’s new member, discuss it with everyone concerned and make sure that everyone, without exception, agrees to accept the change.
Outline pet care responsibilities. If you have small children, they must be taught how to treat the pet safely and respectfully, such as: not disturbing the pets while asleep, not approaching them while they are eating, not startling them with sudden movements and sounds, to respect their private space, etc. Be prepared to devote enough time and attention to your new friend.
Keep in mind that occasional issues are unavoidable after you bring the newly adopted pet home.
All the precautionary measures listed above might scare you away from taking a pet from a shelter. But in fact, doing all of this is a win-win: Firstly, you save a living being that almost certainly has been through a lot of hardship, which will make him appreciate your act and treat you with the most sincere and devoted love; Secondly, The act would be deemed a more pragmatic solution as you don’t have to pay for that love and devotion.
Unfortunately, the number of available homes is never enough for the legions of animals that never get their chance of finding a home: Around the world, there are 608 million stray animals.
How can you help to reduce the number of stray animals?
Firstly, if you already have a pet, you can prevent them from falling into the ranks of stray animals. There is a whole range of things you can do:
1. Microchip your pet;
2. Get a collar with a ID tag;
3. Teach your dog two essential commands “Come” and “Stay", and if you have a cat, train your cat to come when it is being called;
4. Keep your pet on a leash. While this rule might seem obvious for dog walking, cat owners should also have a leash on hand for certain occasions, e.g. as a precautionary measure when the cat is traveling in a carrier.
5. Secure your home or yard. Be sure to close all the doors and windows that are out of your sight, and keep in mind that cats are flexible creatures that can squeeze through pretty much anything, so even lose panels or holes might be the cause.
6. Keep their documentation easily available. If your pet were to get lost, you can speed up the process of finding them by having all your information together.
Whether being pet owners or not, a lot of people indulge themselves in sympathy and feel tempted to help those stray animals who were not lucky enough to be part of a family. Especially kind-hearted people may be eager to try to comfort those unfortunate creatures in any way possible. However, adopting an animal is not the only choice you have, there are many more effective ways to help those beings.
If you really want to do something useful for homeless animals, find an animal shelter near your home. Most likely, they are in need of employees and the ones that they have are constantly switching between a multitude of tasks, thus, another pair of hands would certainly be something they could use. You can bring food there, walk the dogs, take animals to see the doctor, help the staff to clean the premises, etc.
Transferring a certain amount of money to a shelter is the most simple and fast way to help animals in need. However, only do it if you are sure that the shelter is trustworthy. You can protect yourself from scammers by not contributing money, but instead providing animal feed, medicine and other necessary items. You can easily deny yourself a cup of coffee from a local coffee shop if you keep in mind that your action will save a life, can’t you?
If you have enough space at home for an abandoned cat or dog, you can make a weighty contribution by taking an animal for temporary foster care. Who knows, maybe, in the future, you will change your mind about giving the animal back. But even if you take the courage to provide temporary care, you will most certainly make a sizable difference.
Often, volunteers and their wards lack such a simple form of assistance as transportation to or from the medical clinic. Sometimes there are people ready to take a stray animal for a while or forever, but there is no way to bring it by public transport, and they do not own a private car either. If you have some free time and are willing to help, take the chance to participate. Both the animal and its new owner will be grateful to you.
If you are a professional photographer or you have experience in amateur photography and own a good camera, we suggest for you take part in photoshoots for the sheltered or fostered dogs and cats. This is a great opportunity for you to help homeless animals in getting a chance to find a new owner who will not be able to go past the touching pictures you have created.
Undoubtedly, sheltered animals are those who were lucky enough to be treated by volunteers. They were taken from the streets, and from that moment on, every minute of their life has changed. However, the greatest dream of each sheltered animal is a caring and loving owner, a warm home and confidence in the future. Taking an animal from a shelter or helping it to find a new home, means a life is saved and even though you cannot change the world by saving a single animal’s life, you will most certainly change that animal’s world.