I should hope that it goes without saying that I feel like fostering is an amazing, wonderful thing, and I would like everyone out there to foster at least once in their life–it is why I started this blog after all. But that said, it’s kind like sticking a band-aid on Niagara Falls… if Niagara Falls was the pet overpopulation problem. Of course every life that is saved through fostering is beyond precious, and when you foster you really are saving multiple lives because you are opening up a space in the shelter, but still, getting to the root of the problem is ultimately of greater importance.
No one can resist a wiggly puppy butt, and taking a scared dog out of the shelter is a feeling that can probably only be trumped by winning the lottery, but the less glamorous job of promoting spaying and neutering, as well as responsible pet ownership, is crucial if we are going to win this war. There is no immediate gratification. No one gushes over the precious pictures you flood Facebook and Instagram with. You don’t get to hold a scared dog and make his life better. BUT by promoting these things what you are doing is saving countless future lives from ever having to experience the dirty floor of a shelter, an empty tummy, harsh words, or a kick in the ribs. Sure, you can’t ever really know how many dogs you’ve saved from suffering, but isn’t knowing that you have gratification enough?
I know that our society today is consumed with the need for immediate, tangible gratification (thank you Facebook!) but this is something that will give you neither of those. There. I said it. “But how many people will like my status? How many followers will I get? Will people like me?!” You will have to do all of this without so much as a pat on your back. No cheers, no “likes”, no gratification other than knowing you have in fact made a difference. A difference you will only see in the decreasing number of dogs landing at shelters. It will take time BUT we can do it. And won’t seeing those numbers go down be the biggest victory of all?
Most of my friends have experienced once, or twice, or 57 times, “The Speech” when I see someone out in public with an obviously unaltered male (it’s basically impossible to tell if a female is altered or not, so I rarely approach the owners of females.) Most people argue with me, roll their eyes, or mutter “b*tch” under their breath. But sometimes, just every now and then, I actually get through to someone. My favorite story is probably the time I was with Last Hope Rescue at Barkoween. We had a booth there for our adoptable dogs and the booth next to us was for a free/low cost spay and neuter voucher program. The event was open to the public and I had already given “The Speech” to a few victims when a young man walked by with his gigantic pit bull, who was rocking the biggest set of gonads I have ever seen. I swiftly walked over to him and launched into “The Speech” while
violently gently tugging him in the direction of the booth next to us. After some back and forth about how “he doesn’t want to take away his masculinity”, he finally admitted that he didn’t really have the money. “Not a problem my friend!” And next thing I know the kid is filling out the form to receive a free neuter voucher. So maybe it wasn’t cool, or glamorous, but I just prevented that dog from reproducing. All it takes is for you to make the effort. You don’t know the outcome until you try!
Here is my challenge to you: do one thing today that forces you out of your comfort zone regarding spaying and neutering. Send a link of my blog to someone you know doesn’t believe in it. Post a link on Facebook to a site about spaying and neutering. Take your dog on a walk and seek out someone to give “The Speech” to. (“The Speech” is something you have to come up with on your own. If I tell you mine, it won’t flow right. Say what comes natural to you. All that matters is you have your facts straight and you do it!) Call up your Uncle Larry who insists that, “I watch her closely when she’s in heat” and chat with him about why his female dog really does need to be spayed before there is an “accident” and he’s got a litter of puppies on his hands.
One mind changed = countless lives saved.
The mom and her puppies featured throughout this post are currently being fostered by a friend of mine here in Jacksonville. She pulled them yesterday from the shelter on her own so they wouldn’t all be euthanized but we are looking for a rescue to urgently help. Feel free to hit that “share” button and help us spread the word! Thanks!