October is National Adopt-a-Dog Month as declared by the ASPCA. I’m going to broaden that to Adopt-a-Pet Month and feature this article for all of the wonderful rescue organizations around Houston that do so much good by taking in stray, abandoned or abused animals and finding homes for them. I’ve often found that pets who are rescued and re-homed make the best friends for those that adopt them. It’s almost like they recognize the hard road they’ve traveled and are grateful for the second chance. I feel strongly that supporting these organizations is not only a community good, but it’s also good for the soul (as cheesy as that sounds). We all need something in our lives that is going to inspire us to be better people. Something that we do for the good of someone else. So few of us are privileged enough work in an area that we are passionate about. Enriching your own life through some sort of service can help balance out the stresses that you encounter every day.
What is a rescue organization?
Seems like a simple question, so I’ll keep it brief. A rescue organization is often a non-profit group of like-minded individuals who are unsatisfied with the amount of stray pets in an area and seek to rectify the situation. They can be as large and notable as a Humane Society, or something as small as a personal breed rescue group.
How can you help?
One of the areas that I feel strongly about, is community service. I feel a calling to do this service through the pet-related areas. Your best bet is to think about what your commitment can be. Can you offer time? How much per week? Can you offer money? How much? Are you interested in a particular area, such as feral cats, a specific breed (or specific species), homeless pets, stray pets, neglected pets, etc. Do you have a particular skill that might be utilized, such as web design, carpentry, advertising, fund-raising skills, etc. Most of these rescue organizations are made up of volunteers that keep the organization going on their free time. Most have families, full-time jobs, hobbies and other obligations. Here are some examples of ways to help out that aren’t related to your standard money, food or other physical goods (even though these are perfectly acceptable and very helpeful!):
- foster a dog (often in high demand) – a foster isn’t just responsible for giving the pet a place to stay, it is often crucial for successful placement, the foster will evaluate temperament, habits and quirks and help with any medical issues, these are in high demand because the pet population is ever-growing and kennels are often over-crowded. If you are able to foster a dog until it finds a home, you would be doing a world of good.
- specialized skill – I felt this needed a little more elaboration. As an example, for a while I was managing the aspect of the Houston Boxer Rescue that emailed out veterinary records to new pet owners for their new pets. Do you have a truck? Sometimes transportation is hard to come by. Do you have a large network of contacts and connections? Fundraising is often a vital part of raising money for the organization. Are you already in an animal-related industry and you would like to donate goods or services? I also donate my time and perform Home Visits of prospective adopters for my area. The Rescue Group Barrios Dogs, Inc builds fences around yards of people who have their dogs tethered to fences. These pet owners are in lower income neighborhoods and education comes with the donated fence. Someone who has some technical, hands-on skills would be needed to help, for example.
- pet ambassador – do you have a well-trained dog? Sometimes these rescue organizations need a dog that is trained and knows commands to make appearances at certain dog functions. A friendly dog often attracts people to the area and can gain support for the rescue.
- administrative skills – this applies to some of the bigger pet organizations. Rescue organizations like SNAP often need people who are skilled at answering the phones or perform office duties to help with their regular operations
- enrichment donations – I volunteered at a no-kill shelter when I was out of High School. Every Saturday I would go the shelter’s cat room and change out litter boxes, fill food bowls and then play with the cats and walk the dogs. Sometimes these pets that are located in kennel situations (as opposed to foster homes) don’t get enough exercise or stimulation. Any little amount you can give is helpful for their mental health.
- public speaking – have a talent? or maybe it just doesn’t bother you like it does most of us. Educating the public about the organization’s mission is important. Having a good face and an articulate voice for the public can be beneficial to receiving much-needed funds.
Breed Rescue – This is listed for the Houston Area. I haven’t checked out all of the links to be sure they are all Houston-based. I know that this list (while comprehensive) isn’t complete as the Houston Boxer Rescue isn’t listed, only the Lone Star Boxer Rescue is.
Houston Area Shelters and Rescue Groups – This is a really great list. I love that they have Bunny Buddies and the Houston Area Ferret Rescue listed.