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August 5, 2009 > Ohlone Humane Society: Homeless Animals in Crisis

Ohlone Humane Society: Homeless Animals in Crisis

By Nancy Lyon

Animal shelters are full to bursting and limited space translates to limited time for a companion animal to have an opportunity to find a new family. The clock is always ticking as shelter staff and volunteers try desperately to find alternatives to killing adoptable animals.

While there are many wonderful rescues and lesser-kill shelters, the reality is that there are just too many animals and not all will make it out. Are the bad guys the people that must face the long walk to the euthanasia room with an innocent animal in tow? It's always easier to point a finger than to look into the mirror and ask yourself, as a responsible person, have I contributed to this tragedy in any way?" If we're honest, the answer is often "yes." It's not always the commonly held profile of the ignorant and uncaring person down the block... but often the average person who tries to justify allowing their animals to reproduce for the same old, tired reasons that have permitted the killing fields to continue.

Those responsible have many faces... the lazy, those that can afford it but don't want to spend the money; some who want to share the "miracle of birth" with their children but don't consider what comes next for the off-spring; the love-breeders who want to share their animal's off-spring with the world; those in it for a fast buck - the merchants of greed that sell puppy mill or backyard bred animals to an unsuspecting and often uninformed public; the macho-less idiots that wear a muscle dog like an ornament to prove how much man - or woman- they really aren't... they are legend. And it goes on and on.

The plight of homeless animals has a champion in the International Society for Animal Rights (ISAR). In its mission regarding homeless animals is the statement:

"It was in respect and compassion that in 1992 the International Society for Animal Rights (ISAR) introduced National Homeless Animals' Day and Candlelight Vigils as an innovative educational vehicle with a purpose of informing society of the American tragedy that overwhelms animal shelters each year - companion animal overpopulation. Since the conception of National Homeless Animals' Day, ISAR has reserved the third Saturday of August, commemorating the Day annually, to promote new campaigns, programs and ideas on the solution to the companion animal overpopulation epidemic: spay/neuter."

ISAR states that because of the ever-growing, successful international participation in National Homeless Animals' Day by foreign animal protection organizations, it formally acknowledges this global participation by officially entitling their crusade as "International Homeless Animals' Day."

On this day animal welfare organizations participate in campaigns to raise awareness about the companion animal overpopulation epidemic. International Homeless Animals' Day activities often include candlelight vigils, adopt-a-thons, microchip clinics, blessings of the animals, and heartfelt speeches given by council members, local veterinarians, humane officers and shelter personnel as well as other activities.

By coming together on International Homeless Animals' Day, people of compassion can lend their support in letting the world know they will no longer tolerate the senseless killing that continues to take the lives of innocent dogs, cats, puppies and kittens simply because there are not enough good homes for them.

Raising public awareness and urging participation in promoting the spaying or neutering of companion animals is even more pressing today in California. Governor Schwarzenegger has suspended for one year, protections of the 1998 Hayden Law regarding the stray hold period in animal shelters. The Hayden Law mandated a minimum holding period in municipal animal shelters of from 6 or 4 days (it allowed 4 days if open one night or weekend day). With the suspension of the law it has now been changed to a scant 72 hours. It was a budget cut to reduce state mandated funding (several million dollars a year) of costs incurred by local animal control agencies in meeting the law requirements. The chance exists that if the state economy doesn't improve significantly next year not just the stray hold period but all the important protections provided shelter animals by the Hayden Law will be repealed.

Now animals in our already overcrowded shelters will have even less time to find a home. This increases the pressure to immediately move to reduce the number of animals coming into shelters by spaying and neutering. By participating in events such as International Homeless Animal Day and promoting awareness of the plight of shelter animals and those abandoned to the streets, we need to not only educate but bring pressure on communities to provide affordable ways for people to have their animals altered.

Remember - don't buy, don't breed...adopt!

For more information on International Homeless Animals' Day - the ISAR website is http://www.isaronline.org/ihad.html

For resources for low-cost or free spay/neuter services contact Judy Canright, OHS Spay Neuter Director at (510) 494-1033.

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