Sunday Commentary: Why do we need all of these rescue groups?

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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 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 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.

11 thoughts on “Sunday Commentary: Why do we need all of these rescue groups?

  1. Add to it the number of ferret shelter/rescues and see what happens! Poor animals!

  2. I run one of those rescue groups. County animal controls that “adopt” out dogs without spaying/neutering or having some type of program to have this done, area also “filling the hole” There is a program for spay/neuter reimbursement through the funds from the Care license plates that are available and the paperwork is SO easy!! But it’s not being used enough. Animal Control is not seeing the big picture of that female dog having a litter and they have to take all of them in next spring, then THOSE puppies have puppies. Euthaniasia is not the answer. Spay/neuter IS the answer.

    I would like to see more of the rescue groups combine or be able to work together more. I think we would be so much more efficient. JMO

  3. I have worked with many rescue groups over the years and observed that people cannot get along and the struggle for “power” causes organizations to break a part. There are a few major welfare organizations who decide to put the animals first and their egos second. The in-fighting is just too sad. Volunteers are people who cannot always work together; which means the animals suffer.

  4. Not to mention there are some rescues that are not reputable. And rescue and shelter requirements for adopting range so widely it’s confusing to the general public. A lot of people who work hard for the animals and are involved scoff at the public sometimes but that hurts the cause. Some people don’t know better and really just need someone to explain the constant struggle that spay and neuter can help alleviate.

  5. The system overall could be improved. Shelters need to work closely with local rescues and local rescues need to work together.

    But again, we also need a major push in working to shut down the sources of homelessness – through efficient spay/neuter programs and through better regulations, laws and enforcement to shut down puppy mills.

    The individuals who are adding to the problem need to pay for doing so, through heavy fines and/or fees.

  6. Wish there were a presidential candidate we could vote for who would create harsher laws for animal abusers and backyard breeders!

  7. Rebecca,

    I too wish we had politicians to vote for – from President to Congress to state-level offices – who have the courage and compassion to pass laws to protect animals.

    I’ve read about a few over the years – but far too few. Again, GREED has a strangle hold on too many of them at this point. Campaign dollars are at the top of their list.


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