Alana here today.
Did you know that, according to the Humane Society of the US, only 30% of animals in US homes are adopted? That’s hard to believe because the concept of purchasing an animal rather than adopting one from a shelter or even pulling one from the street seems so senseless. Why purchase an animal instead of taking one in that desperately needs it? Why give money to an industry that brings more pets into the world while others go homeless? “I want a certain breed,” I often hear from people looking for a new pet. “Find a breed rescue,” I tell them. Or better yet, walk into the shelter, look each animal in the eyes, and find that one of a kind mixed breed that connects with your soul. “I want a kitten,” other people tell me. “I want my child to experience the animal’s growing up.” Perfect, then adopt a kitten. There are plenty available, especially in the spring.
There are a lot of reasons that people buy pets instead of adopting, but this year, Remember Me Thursday is trying to change that by shedding light on the topic and asking people to “opt to adopt.” Perhaps it would change people’s minds to know that roughly 9,300 healthy animals are euthanized each day due to lack of space in shelters. Each day. How many of those could be saved if everyone chose adoption?
Tomorrow, Thursday September 26, shelters across multiple nations will be lighting candles for the first time to remember all the pets that have lost their lives without ever finding their forever home, in the hopes that those candles will bring light to all of the animals that are still waiting, right now, to find theirs. I’m proud that here in Chicago, Tree House Humane, a shelter I work with closely, will be part of this touching ceremony. Their no-kill philosophy was groundbreaking in the 1970s when they started. They promised their cats that they’d never be killed due to lack of space. But how can they manage that when their space is obviously finite? They started a major low-cost spay/neuter program to address the source of the problem, which is overpopulation, and are now providing that service to more than 5,000 cats and dogs annually. And what to do with the animals that are already born? Tree House began a foster network. They’ve partnered with other rescues and volunteers who are willing to take the animals into their homes and available spaces, to get them out of animal control and into a safe, no-kill space. These programs and others like them have cut the euthanasia rate in Chicago in half in the last ten years. It’s possible to get similar efforts started across the country. If we could cut the overall euthanasia rate in half, we’d be saving 4,650 lives each day. That would be outstanding, wouldn’t it? And yet, it still leaves 4,650 lives to save daily, so there is more work to be done. When asked why they are participating in Remember Me Thursday, Jenny Schlueter from Tree House said, “…we want to call attention to those we couldn’t save. We don’t want them to die in vain and we take energy from their deaths to keep us going in this work until they all have the home they deserve.”
Take a moment tomorrow to remember all those little ones who didn’t quite make it to that loving forever companion. Light a candle if you are able, and if you can’t, light one virtually by sharing the event through social media. The larger this campaign gets, the more influential it becomes, the more lives it can save.