Sunday Commentary: Why do we need all of these rescue groups?
In the last segment of the HBO Documentary “One Nation Under Dog,” text appeared on the screen stating there are hundreds of dog rescue organizations in the US. The documentary was really well-done and I hope it proves to be an eye-opener for those who previously were not aware the realities of homelessness and other issues surrounding animal welfare.
The documentary certainly didn’t pull many punches.
But it struck me that there are actually thousands of dog rescue (and cat rescue) organizations in the United States – not merely hundreds. So just to make sure I wasn’t overstating the numbers in my head, I went to Petfinder.com to engage in a couple of searches.
In the “Search For Animal Welfare Groups” box, I pulled up a list of rescue organizations in my home state of North Carolina. A full 459 matches appeared. Some are not dog-specific, but most of them do rescue dogs. And this is just in NC alone.
In New York – the search yielded 669 groups. But in North Dakota it was only 18 total rescue groups. In SC – 203. In California – 1,258. Florida – 700. Obviously, in general terms, the greater the human population, the greater the number rescue organizations.
The higher the human population, the higher the number of irresponsible humans on hand. Irresponsible people and puppy mills and backyard breeders lead to more homeless pets.
That’s thousands of rescue groups across the nation with probably an average of thousands of volunteers in your average state. And why? – because they’re needed. If homelessness was not such a problem, the list under each state on Petfinder.com would not be nearly as extensive. The number of rescue organizations in my home city has exploded over the last decade.
On one hand, it is disheartening to realize the number of groups are up due to the level of homelessness. But the good news is there are so many compassionate people who are working within these groups to help.
The people responsible for the number of dogs and cats and other pets who become homeless every day need to be held accountable for their actions. Until these people are held responsible, the problems will continue. These thousands of rescue groups will continue to struggle week after week after year to care for and find homes for millions of dogs and cats – every year.
I liken it to a hole filling with water. The rescue groups are trying to empty the hole, cup by cup. But at the same time, puppy mills and greyhound racing and irresponsible people who refuse to spay and neuter and allow their pets to have litter after litter after litter of offspring are standing on the other side of the hole, filling it with more homelessness.
And to a large extent, the federal government and too many state legislatures are doing very little to nothing to stop the perpetrators from filling the hole with homelessness – a seemingly never-ending flow of irresponsibility, largely fueled by greed or selfishness. So while rescue groups by the thousands battle daily against this flood of greed, irresponsibility and their cousin apathy – dogs and cats are dying by the millions every year.
But the groups battle on. Why? – Because the people who work within these rescue organizations have something sorely lacking on the other side of the equation. The rescue volunteers have compassion. They care about other living beings. People who volunteer in animal rescue; human homeless shelters; organizations to stop child abuse and hunger: cancer walks; anti-bullying campaigns; anti-domestic violence campaigns and more have compassion for others.
In this corner of our tag-team match, we have the reining heavyweight champions – Greed and Selfishness, and their manager – Dirty Money. And in the other corner, we have the underdog – Compassion and Caring.