Companion animals are a key part of many Americans’ lives—the average pet-owner takes great joy in caring for and spoiling their dogs, cats or exotic animals. However, many domesticated animals in the U.S. have no owners and are taken in by animal shelters like the SPCA or county adoption centers. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), approximately 6.5 million cats and dogs enter animal shelters every year. Of those, about 3.2 million animals are adopted, but nearly 1.5 million are euthanized. This overcrowding of shelters, and more broadly overpopulation of companion animals in general, is a serious issue, but one that can help be resolved by almost anyone.
There are many things you could do in order to help the plight of shelter animals. For one, if you’re able, you could adopt or foster a shelter pet. Around the Triangle area there are many adoption events that regularly take place. Local businesses like AniMall in Cary Towne Center offer spaces for animal rescue groups to hold adoption events, and doing an online search or looking at event calendars yields many results for adoption events, especially on weekends. An upcoming local event is the TICA Time Cat Show, which takes place the weekend of Feb. 16-17 and costs $5 for adult admission. Besides being a cat show and a place to learn about different breeds of cats, the event will have cats available for adoption from local shelters.
Of course, adopting or even fostering a pet is a huge responsibility and should be thoroughly thought through before any decisions are made. In fact, that is one of the reasons so many pets end up in shelters: the idea of owning a pet and the reality of owning a pet are quite different, and animals who are purchased from breeders sometimes end up brought to shelters because their owners did not realize the true responsibility of owning a pet.
If you don’t think you’re ready to bring a new pet into your home, there are still plenty of other ways you can help these animals. Summer Langdon, a student at Meredith, has been volunteering at the Raleigh SPCA for about a month, and says that she wanted to start volunteering because she has “always loved animals and…wanted to help make a difference and find abandoned or homeless animals caring owners, while making sure that they have the proper care they need before adoption.” In her work at the SPCA, Summer grooms cats and cleans up their kennels and is also currently working toward completing dog care training. About her work at the shelter, Summer said, “I definitely feel like I am making a difference when helping at the SPCA! It is a great feeling when you know you have helped one of the animals by providing them the care and support they need to get adopted into a loving home.”
According to the Raleigh SPCA’s website, where a lot of detailed information can be found about volunteering requirements, as long as you’re over 18-years-old and can commit to volunteering for at least one shift per month, you can be eligible to volunteer. They offer a variety of tasks for volunteers, including pet matchmakers, dog walkers, kennel keepers and more. For more information on how to volunteer, visit spcawake.org.
By Olivia Slack, Staff Writer