Saturday, August 1, 2015

THE OTHER UNSEEN HOMELESS POPULATION


The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines homeless as ‘having no home or permanent place of residence’.  When we talk about a homeless problem, immediately we think about adult humans.  In his book, No One Sees Me, David Sleppy asked a homeless man, “What’s the worst part about being homeless?”  The reply was, “No one sees me”.  A harsh statement, but one we know internally as true.  Seeing but not actually seeing.  There are also many other “not-seen” victims of homelessness, each one very significant.  One of these victim groups is companion pets.

No matter how often we expound on the love we have of dogs and cats, pet homelessness is a huge problem.  If you do not think so, then think again.  The statistics are frightening and exceedingly sad.  According to the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP), homeless animals outnumber homeless people 5 to 1.  Ninety percent (90%) of all dogs born in the U.S. every year have no permanent home.  This article is not about the statistics, though.  It is about having you see our homeless pet population. 

At present, the Tehama County Animal Care Center is having a difficult time.  As I write this, 13 animals have been there over 60 days, with an additional 24 animals over 30 days.  One of the difficulties faced is that the longer any animal stays, the less room there is for incoming animals, and the amount coming in every day does not diminish.  It is my hope that the stories of some of these long-term residents will allow you to “see” beyond the numbers and begin to understand how tragic pet homelessness is.

John was a stray without a collar, helped to safety by animal control on March 16 and, as of this writing, has been at the Center for 133 days.  We cannot figure out why.  A quiet, well-mannered, easygoing dog who is only a few years old, housetrained, and whose adoption fee (because of sponsorship) would be low, is passed over time after time.  John, however, is black and designated a Rottweiler mix, so because of erroneous public perception, the odds are stacked against him.

Trinity arrived at the Center on March 9 and was adopted June 25.  Unfortunately, she was returned the very next day.  She was returned not because she was a “problem” dog, but because the landlord would not allow her.  As is often the issue, labels and appearances have worked against another outgoing, people oriented, friendly, youngster finding a home.  Trinity has the slight features of a ‘bully-breed’.

Kaden, only a few weeks old, was found on his own by a kind stranger and brought into the Center.  Kaden’s story is similar to the dozens of kittens that have arrived over these past few months.  They come in alone or as part of found litters, all too young to survive on their own and much too young to be adopted.  Many come in sick.  If they manage to thrive, they are put up for adoption only to face another hurdle.  With so many other domestic short hairs, tabbies, etc. available in the county, there is very little to distinguish shelter kittens from the others.  Trying to find a permanent home, even as a cute kitten, can be difficult.

Mop’s only crime is that he is no longer a puppy.  Left outside the Center’s door in a crate, it became apparent Mop’s guardian no longer wished to care for him.  This homeless animal, we believe for a number of years, had been an integral part of a family.  He is used to being around and hanging out with people.  Nevertheless, age and a slight infirmity contributed, in this instance, to him not having a permanent residence.  We all hope that another family will look beyond Mop’s years and see what a loving animal he is.


These are just a few of the stories of the over 2000 animals that arrived at the shelter this past year.  Each of those animals did not want to be homeless or part of a national statistic and yet each one was.  The comfort of a warm bed, steady food to eat, and a loving permanent home to call our own is what most of us desire.  Homeless animals are no exception.



**I am Happy to report both John and Mop have been adopted/rescued... However, there are still many other homeless animals with very similar stories who would like not to be homeless...**


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