February 2008

Adopt a Friend

Author: Grace Wang

Do you remember the days when pet stores occupied almost every major shopping mall? Do you remember those puppies or kittens who would gaze up at you with those sad, round eyes, just pleading for you to take them home and get them out of a glass cage? They tugged at your heartstrings, making it difficult to walk away—maybe even more so for those of you with children. Now, I am here to tug at your heartstrings on behalf of the millions of homeless animals just waiting to be adopted.

No longer are pet stores the major source of obtaining an addition to your family. Animal rights groups, Humane Associations, and millions of volunteer organizations and businesses have dispelled the notion that pets from shelters are, as some would say, “damaged goods.”

Network television has helped lay the groundwork for pet adoption by exposing visually and worldwide the mistreatment of animals through informational programs and reality shows such as Animal Cops Detroit, aired on the Animal Planet Network. Even PETA has its own television station.

Most Hilton Head Islanders are aware of the local Hilton Head Humane Association’s no-kill shelter. Most who surf the Internet will see websites that will aid in the search for a new pet. But some do not see outside of the Lowcountry area. Most shelters across the United States are founded to serve stray animals—to provide medical treatment, proper training, and even placement programs for these animals. But what many people do not know is that the overpopulation of animals in these shelters forces them to euthanize those whose time has come, to make way for newly found animals in need of care and homes. Countless people have helped to foster, adopt or rescue animals from these institutions, placing them in homes and lessening the numbers that go into such a system.

We on Hilton Head Island are lucky and most definitely grateful to the non-profit no-kill shelter! But having and knowing that such a shelter exists in this area is not enough. Volunteers and foster homes are needed, donations are happily accepted, emergency response persons are required, not to mention medical staff, trainers, and the list can go on and on. But the one thing they need the most is willing adopters.

To adopt an animal means making way for new animals to be cared for and taken in, to save another from a euthanizing shelter, in hopes that someone will be gracious and loving towards a new furry member of the family.

Of course, there are numerous essential factors to consider: Can you afford a pet? Do you have time for a pet? Can you have a pet where you live? Are your living arrangements suitable for a pet? Who will care for your pet while you are away on vacation? Are you ready to deal with the consequences of owning a pet? Will you be a responsible pet owner? Are you prepared to keep and care for this pet for his or her entire life?

Only you have the answers to those questions. But I can help with some factoids to get on the right track. In order to adopt, you must be willing to comply with all of the above. Once the process begins, DO YOUR RESEARCH!

Once you have decided on what type of pet you would like, how energetic or laid-back you would like your pet to be, etc., go take a look at the shelter. Their trainers and management staff can match you with the perfect pet and answer all of your questions.

These animals come with everything they need in tow: vaccinations, microchipping, heartworming for puppies, spay or neutering, medications, and at least some training. Adoption fees amount to approximately $100, and some paperwork must be filed. But, when all is said and done, you have a new friend, loved one, member of the family!

If adoption is out of the question for you, there are others ways to help. Your generosity and time with the HHHA can help save the life of numerous animals. For more information, call 843-681-8686 or visit www.hhhumane.org.

Did You Know?

7 million adoptable cats and dogs are killed each year due to overpopulation.

25-30 percent of dogs for adoption are purebred. The other 70-75 percent are just as lovable and wonderful! (If you have your heart set on a purebred, look into breed rescuers and shelters that cater to your particular breed.)

Many rescue organizations offer training and socialization programs for your to-be pet, which may already be house-broken!

Many organizations offer post-adoption workshops and training classes to further the communication between you and your new pet.

Many pets sold through at-home breeders and pet stores are negligent in regard to the effects of inbreeding and preventing genetic disorders.

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