There’s plenty of things the world needs more of right now. An end to COVID being one of them. But what it doesn’t need is any more abandoned animals. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what’s it getting, quite literally by the boxful. Since the pandemic started, animal shelters and rescue centers have reported an astronomical spike in the number of animals being abandoned. Despite the rise in adoptions across much of the US, the supply far exceeds the demand. As a result, many shelters have been pushed to breaking point. So, when the papers report yet another case of abandonment, think of the shelter that has to deal with it. With their finances stretched to the limit and overcrowding at critical point, the last thing they need is another mouth to feed…. let alone 9. But that’s exactly what the Ontario Feral Cat Project in Oregon is having to deal with at the moment.
The Unwelcome Surprise
Earlier this month, staff at the Ontario Feral Cat Project turned up to find someone had left a present on their doorstep overnight… a container of 9 hungry cats. As coleandmarmalade.com reports, the only virtue was that the cats were contained – all too often, animals are simply dumped loose on the road. With the shelter’s resources already stretched to their limit, the staff were understandably furious that someone had simply dumped the animals without first checking if the shelter could handle adding any more numbers to its ranks. “This morning these 9 kitties were left on our doorstep!!!”, they vented on Facebook. “We realize people get frustrated when we aren’t able to take kitties in, but we always give other options…. believe us it’s frustrating to us too!! We want to help every kitty, but we just can’t take them all in, we have limited room, limited money, and limited volunteers.”
The Fundraising Efforts
Fortunately, all the abandoned cats seemed to be healthy on first examination. But a healthy cat still costs money… and if there’s one thing most shelters don’t have in abundance right now (asides from space), it’s money. In that, the Ontario Feral Cat Project is no exception. Even if all nine cats get a clean bill of health from the vet, the shelter anticipates they’ll still have to pay over $1,100 in vets bills just to get the all-clear. If any of the cats require additional treatment, it’ll be even more. And that’s to say nothing of the cost of feeding the poor creatures. With their coffers already low, the project has been forced to launch an urgent social media campaign to raise donations for the upkeep of their new arrivals. But it’s not just money that’s the problem. The shelter has so little room, the cats are having to be kept in traps. Along with supplies and donations, they’re also in desperate need of homes for the kittens, even if only on a temporary basis.
How To Help
Sad though the Ontario Feral Cat Project’s dilemma is, it’s by no means rare. Every year, shelters across the US take in over 6 million cats and dogs. Less than half of those animals ever find a home, meaning that for many shelters, the continued expense of keeping their residents healthy and nourished is an ever-present concern. Since the COVID pandemic resulted in a dramatic rise in animal abandonment, those concerns have never been more pressing. But there are ways we can help. If you have the time and the will to help animals in need, here are some ways you can help your local shelter keep afloat.
Adopt a pet
Why buy a puppy when there’s already so many unwanted animals in desperate need of a home? Whether you’re expanding an existing menagerie or getting your first pet, take humanesociety.org’s advice and consider adopting from a local shelter or rescue group. Simply visit Shelter Pet Project (theshelterpetproject.org/) to find out what pets are looking for a home in your area. If you aren’t able to offer a forever home but can still give a cat or dog a warm place to stay on a temporary basis, contact your local shelter to enquire about fostering.
Not everyone can offer a pet a home, but there’s plenty of other ways you can help. Monetary donations are always gratefully accepted and can go a long way to helping cover essential costs like supplies, staff training, housing improvements, outreach programs, and daily operations. But it’s not just money you can donate. If you have any unused pet supplies around the house, there’s a good chance your local shelter could make use of them. Food, bedding, bowls, and even newspapers can all go a long way towards making life that little bit easier.
If you’ve got skills, there’s a good chance your local shelter could use them. Carpenters, electricians, plumbers, and anyone else with a trade is in hot demand, while most shelters would welcome someone with marketing experience with open arms. But even if you don’t have a ‘skill’ per se, they’re still likely to be appreciative of anyone who’s willing to help with cleaning, walking, or answering the occasional phone call.
Fundraise for spay and neuter programs
As PETA notes, the most important thing you can do to help reduce unnecessary suffering in the animal world is to support spay and neuter programs. Overpopulation is a massive problem, resulting in millions more stray and unwanted pets in the world than there needs to be. Support the efforts by getting involved in fundraising – no matter how much you raise, you’ll be getting the word out and helping a vital cause.
Spread the word
One of the things most shelters are in desperate need of is publicity. There are only so many people they can reach on their own, so why not help them out by following their Facebook page and asking your own friends and followers to do the same? You never know, one of them might just hear a story or see a picture that convinces them to offer up a home.