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With an estimated 6.5 million dogs and cats entering shelters every year, the struggle to help all of them find homes is an ongoing battle. Shelters are implementing foster programs, updating their adoptions centers, and using creative campaigns to help adoptable pets find homes, but even with these efforts, there are still certain pets that are continuously passed by on the adoption floor.
Maybe they have minor behavioral issues, have never been socialized, or they simply need to learn basic manners so they can adapt to life in a home. They deserve a second chance just like any other pet, but the sad reality is that many of them are at risk of being euthanized or living out the remainder of their lives in shelters. Whatever the issue is, shelters have long been working to help all animals that come through their doors find a place to call home. And with the help of special training and rehoming programs, they’re working to make that a reality.
Saving Cats By Giving Them A Job
There are cats that like to cuddle on their human’s lap or approach people for attention, and there are those that are feral or prefer to live a more reclusive life. According to statistics from the ASPCA, only about half of the cats in shelters get adopted, meaning those with difficulty adapting to their environment and interacting with humans have an even harder chance of finding a home. Thankfully, there are programs that are working to change that by giving cats deemed as “unadoptable” or “hard-to-adopt” a second chance.
Shelters across the U.S. have implemented “working cat” programs, where cats that wouldn’t do well in a typical home environment are paired with people as well police stations, breweries, or other businesses that need help keeping mice and rats away from their facilities. The cats are vaccinated, microchipped, and spayed or neutered, and given everything they need to live a cozy life where they can roam freely with little interaction with humans. Because of these programs, cats that might have once faced euthanasia are given a chance to live a happy life.
Learning Skills Behind the Prison Gates
Potential adopters can have trouble connecting with dogs that are extremely shy, rambunctious, or have minor behavioral issues. As a result, they sit in shelters longer than other animals and can face the risk of euthanasia. Extra one-on-one attention and training can eliminate many behavioral issues, but with staffers already stretched thin, that’s not always possible. To remedy this problem, organizations have been looking to outside resources to teach pets skills that will help prepare them for adoptive homes.
Prison dog programs work by pairing dogs with inmates who work with professional trainers to teach them basic commands and obedience. Since the animals typically live on site, the inmates can work on building the trust and confidence needed to make training a success. Once the dogs graduate from the program, they return to the shelter for adoption. But it’s not just dogs benefiting from these programs, as similar programs for cats have been implemented to socialize shy felines as well. It’s an innovative way to help both animals and people, not only by increasing adoptions, but by reducing recidivism rates of inmates who participate in the program.
Helping Elderly and Terminally-Ill Pets
Older pets and those with major medical issues often have a harder time finding adoptive homes. Senior pets are special and still have a lot of love to give, but not everyone feels they can handle having a pet that might only be with them for a short time.
Knowing that all pets deserve to spend their final months or years in a home, organizations have started hospice foster programs. These programs fill the lives of old and terminally-ill pets with comfort and love, providing them a place to live out the rest of their lives. Fostering pets that are likely to pass away soon takes a lot of emotional strength, but those who are up for it know that they will be rewarded a million times over in the love they receive in return. And instead of dying in a shelter or on the streets, these deserving animals leave the world being spoiled and loved by a family.
Rooting for the Underdog
All pets deserve to have a family and a place to call home. When you’re looking for your next family pet, consider one that might be considered “unadoptable” by others. If you can’t adopt, you can still make a difference by participating in a foster program for harder to place pets or volunteering to help socialize animals at your local shelter.
Lead image source: Wikimedia