Close to three million dogs and cats die every year in U.S. shelters, and millions of stray and unwanted animals are living on the streets. It’s a true epidemic in many parts of the world. Most homeless dogs and cats don’t have adequate shelter, leaving them exposed to the elements; this can be especially dangerous in areas that experience long periods of extreme heat or cold. Their living conditions also make them susceptible to disease, injury, and starvation. And because most stray and unwanted animals aren’t spayed or neutered, populations can quickly get out of control.
A lot of great programs exist to help homeless animals, but many of them are located in more urban areas. In rural communities, people may not have the luxury of a vet clinic or groomer being a quick drive away or the resources to house large numbers of animals like larger shelters in urban areas. This poses an issue not only for those trying to save stray animals, but those wishing to help pets and families stay together by providing access to veterinary care and educational programs. In the Midwest and other areas of the U.S., there are rescue organizations who have formed with the specific goal of addressing the issue of stray animals on American Indian reservations, which are typically located in remote areas.
No matter where you live, the issue of stray and unwanted animals affects us all. But amazing organizations like the three listed below help us remember that by working together, we can do amazing things to help animals in our communities.
1. Leech Lake Legacy
Leech Lake Legacy/Facebook
Leech Lake Legacy was founded in an effort to assist the animal impound on the Leech Lake Reservation in Minnesota. In their first year alone, 200 animals were saved through their transport network to partner organizations throughout the state. In their second year of operation, they saved over 900 animals! This amazing organization is able to save countless lives through their partnerships with local shelters and foster-based rescue organizations. They also assist pets within the community by hosting wellness clinics where residents are provided access to routine veterinary care, microchipping and spay/neuter services for their pets. Those who are no longer able to care for their pets can surrender animals as they would at a shelter. Leech Lake Legacy also holds educational events where community members can learn about animal care, pet first aid and canine behavior.
2. LightShine Canine
LightShine Canine works to help homeless dogs and cats on Reservations in South Dakota. Most of their work focuses on the Pine Ridge Reservation, which spans over 2 million acres. It’s a lot of area to cover, but their network of dedicated volunteers works hard to save as many animals as possible. A large number of homeless animals live within the area, meaning populations can easily get out of control and become a safety issue for animals and humans alike. By working with volunteers and community members who share a passion for helping animals, LightShine Canine is able to medically treat and transport animals to partner organizations, who then help the animals find adoptive homes. In 2014, this incredible organization saved over 1,000 animals!
3. Red Lake Rosie’s Rescue
Aaron Sawdey for Red Lake Rosie’s Rescue/Facebook
Red Lake Rosie’s Rescue focuses on helping homeless animals on the Red Lake Reservation in Minnesota. Since 2006, they have rescued over 6,000 animals – amazing! The rescue has a small shelter on-site where animals are housed until they can be transported to rescue partners, where they live in foster homes until they are adopted. The organization also hosts spay/neuter clinics to help prevent pet overpopulation and provides health fairs where community members can get their pets vaccinated and groomed. Their educational programs teach community members about animal care, the importance of spaying/neutering pets and how to prevent animal abuse. It’s all part of a community effort to help not only homeless animals but people and their pets. With the help of 40 partner organizations, they’re able to make amazing things happen in their community!
How to Help Homeless Animals in Your Community
- Love road trips? Organizations often rely on volunteers to help transport animals to their partner rescue organizations or foster homes.
- Volunteer to help at a local wellness clinic for animals in your community. It’s a great way to help animals and meet new people.
- Donate to your favorite shelter or rescue to help fund their efforts to save homeless animals.
- Help educate people about the importance of spaying and neutering their pets to help prevent unwanted litters and reduce the number of homeless pets in communities around the world.
Lead image source: Leech Lake Legacy/Facebook