Saturday, November 7, 2015

WHY P.E.T.S. IS PART OF LIFT


In less than a week, on November 13, P.E.T.S. will have the pleasure of joining a number of other organizations at a one-day empowerment event at the Tehama District Fairgrounds, called LIFT Tehama (Live Inspired for Tomorrow).  The event is designed to bring help and hope to those in need.  So, why would P.E.T.S., whose focus is on animals, want to be part of an endeavor that is geared towards low income and homeless residents of Tehama County?

We know that our shelter, like so many others, has a constant and endless stream of animals coming in.  In 2014, the Tehama County Animal Care Center took in 2,163 cats and dogs.  If we wish to decrease the numbers of animals entering the shelter, then we need to help those who are struggling to exist keep their animals.  We help by educating, we help by offering services, and we help by caring about the people and their pets.  That is why P.E.T.S. is part of LIFT.

Some believe that only those who can “properly” care for a pet should have one.  I, personally, have heard some form of, “If a person can’t afford to pay the full adoption fees, then they can’t afford to take care of the pet.”  With that being said, poor people, financially challenged, low-income, homeless or whatever other moniker one cares to use, can and do love their animals as much as someone with a hefty bank account.  Lack of finances does not indicate the character of a person.  A struggling individual deserves the same cherished connection to an animal as anyone else.  In addition, our respective financial situation does not give us the right to dictate those decisions for another.  That is why P.E.T.S. is part of LIFT.

Aimee Gilbreath, Executive Director of the nonprofit Found Animals Foundation, sums it up succinctly, “Pets play such an amazing supportive role in people's physical and emotional health... And the ability to have access to that joy shouldn't be based on income.”  Pets are non-judgmental, and do not care whether the bed is a down fluffed mattress or a stack of newspapers on the ground.  They provide a sense of security in an often-hostile environment.  Pets can also provide a touch of reality in a sometimes-unreal world.  They provide the connection to reality that some need to have reinforced.  Pets can help provide a purpose for living and friendship to individuals who have none.  That is why P.E.T.S. is part of LIFT.

There are approximately 3.5 million homeless Americans.  Some have lost their jobs, some have been foreclosed upon and lost their home, some may be mentally ill, disabled, elderly, abused, and, within any of these venues, one may find a veteran.  They may be teens, single adults, or entire families.  A common misconception is that the homeless are lazy and do not want to work.  Although there is a portion that may, in fact, meet that standard, understand that a missed paycheck, or an abusive spouse can quickly cause someone to become homeless.  A person, as a result, may not be able to adequately care for an animal.  Our purpose is not to condemn the situation, nor act as judges, but to help the animals.  That is why P.E.T.S. is part of LIFT.

Many cannot provide the necessary vaccinations, or spaying and neutering of their pets because of cost involved and, possibly, the travel required to obtain the services.  Procuring the care needed may be formidable for someone who, quite possibly, cannot read, does not speak English, or is unable to comprehend the necessity in any language.  That is why P.E.T.S. is part of LIFT.

To put things in perspective, I was once a breath away from being homeless.  What prevented me from becoming a statistic was the support of people who believed in me.  The other was my pets.  They gave me the motivation to push on, they provided companionship lost, and they gave me a reason to live by providing hope where there was none.  One of the definitions of hope is “to believe that events will turn out for the best”.


Everyone needs to have hope.  THAT is why P.E.T.S. is part of LIFT.


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