Every day we help families connect with a new dog or cat, and reunite pets with their worried family. We provide shelter to animals fleeing abuse and neglect and medical care to the sick and injured, putting them on the path to find a loving home and family. But recent years have ushered in a new meaning of what it means to be engaged in animal welfare.
Today in Southwest Washington our neighbors are struggling to keep their pets at home. Faced with economic hardship, challenges accessing care, life-interrupting emergencies, and other circumstances beyond their control, the only answer for some has been the heart-wrenching decision to give up their pet. While we can provide for a pet's basic needs and offer a high quality of care, a shelter is not a substitute for a loving home. Pets do better when they can stay with their families, and the benefits extend to people, too; we've seen many studies about the physical, emotional, and social benefits of pet ownership. And when we can help pets stay with their people, we also reduce the number of pets entering the shelter unnecessarily and prioritize space for the pets who need it most.
So if the answer is keeping pets and people together, how do we get there? This is a question that challenges shelters and animal welfare agencies around the country. Here in Southwest Washington, we're investing more than ever in programs that reach beyond the walls of the shelter and reach families where they live.
Here are a few of the ways we are serving families in our community:
- Offering free pet food and supplies to those in dire economic circumstances
- Providing low cost spay/neuter services for income-qualified families
- Offering short-term emergency boarding for those experiencing a temporary barrier to caring for their pet like unexpected hospitalizations, fleeing domestic violence, environmental emergencies like the wildfires, and other stressful circumstances
- Financial assistance for essential veterinary care that would otherwise mean a sick animal might be surrendered
- Behavior training to help make sure all pets are good neighbors
- Wellness Clinics that address the needs of pets of those experiencing houselessness
Supporting pets and people is the future of our work. And we know we can't do it alone - this is a community problem and it requires a community solution. With the support and partnership of our other nonprofits, service organizations, and animal lovers like you, we can make a difference for both pets and the people they love.
If you're moved to support our work with the people and pets in our community, please make a gift today to ensure we will be there for those who need us. Learn more about the programs and services that help keep families together at hssw.org/services.
And you can read more about the need in our community in recent articles from The Columbian:
As warmer weather sets in, kitten season begins. All around our region litters of kittens are emerging as they grow older and stronger. But what should you do if you find a litter of kittens? In most cases, they're better off without your help!
National authorities in animal welfare like Best Friends, ASPCA, Alley Cat Allies, and Humane Society of the United States agree: unless kittens are sick or in immediate danger, "rescuing them" is not only unnecessary, it can actually be detrimental for their health. When they're with mom, kittens are often safer and healthier than they are with human caregivers.
When kittens arrive at a shelter, they require the expert care of an HSSW foster home. And even with the dedicated support of a skilled fosters, some kittens may still struggle to survive. During an already crowded kitten season, it's critical to prioritize space for kittens who are most in need.
So how do you know if a kitten actually needs your help?
Check out our stray kittens resource page for links to helpful info, and you can check our kitten flow chart for a step by step guide. Then, once they're old enough, kittens can come to the shelter so we can spay/neuter them, provide vaccinations, and help them find new homes. Of course, when kittens are in need, we're here to help - you'll also find information about how and when to bring sick and at-risk kittens to HSSW.
Kitten season strains our resources and capacity, but there are ways you can help ensure we're here for the animals who need us.
- Make a donation to help us provide critical supplies and care for kittens
- Become a foster volunteer to offer lifesaving support to tiny kittens
- Share the information in the links above to help educate our community about how and when to help kittens
Together, we can help make our community a safer and healthier place for kittens.
Learn more at hssw.org/straykittens
June is National Foster a Pet Month. But the need for foster volunteers isn't limited to a month or a season, our foster volunteers save lives every day. There are many benefits to fostering:
Foster homes are more comfortable for pets. Outside of a stressful shelter environment, pets are able to relax and let their true personality shine. This helps our team learn more about what the pet need in their new home, helping ensure a more successful transition when they're adopted. And for some active dogs, foster placement is a lifeline that offers them the enriching, active lifestyle they need.
Fosters offer TLC. There's a limit to the level of care possible in a typical shelter environment. Very young animals like kittens and puppies need the special support and care that's only possible in a foster home. Spending time in foster helps ensure they are healthy, safe, and socialized until they can be adopted. Fostering young animals is also a great way to get the family involved - especially kids!
Foster homes offer a place to heal. For pets recovering from surgery and other medical concerns, foster placement is a great way to ensure they have the care they need in a reduced-stress environment. Most pets seeking foster for medical reasons are easily cared for and our fosters also receive support and training from our medical and foster teams and foster mentors.
But the benefits to fostering extend far beyond the individual animal. Fostering also makes more room at the shelter for other pets in need - so when you foster, you're saving two lives!
If you think fostering might be a good fit for your home and family, learn more and register to join us as a foster. And if fostering isn't right for you or your home, you can still make a difference when you make a donation or purchase an item from our wish list.
You can learn more about fostering and its impact from our friends and partners at Petco Love!
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