Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Help us stay with our families!

In January of this year my Human witnessed an owner having to part with her beloved companion, Osso, a 6 year old shepherd. She was going through a divorce and she could not find a place that would allow her to keep her beloved dog. The sadness and grief felt by both that morning was more than my Human could bear. She fought tears back as she took photos of Osso that morning.

Did you know that many owners who lose their homes chose to remain homeless than give up their pets and take refuge in a homeless shelter? Did you know that over 5 million of my friends are killed each year because there aren't enough homes for us? I know there are so many people who are working so hard to help us ... my rescuer Karen from Red Lake Rosie's is one of them (I always have to thank her any time I have a chance!)

Did you know that the second reason that owners surrender their companions to shelters (after behavioral issues) is because of "housing issues" and because landlords won't allow pets. With so many people losing jobs and losing their homes they are having to move into apartments. Many of these apartments won't allow pets -- more allow cats, some dogs (but under a certain weight or size) -- if you have a big dog (like me, or Osso who was surrendered back in January) -- you're out of luck! There's this non-profit, FirePaw, that is dedicated to promoting animal welfare through research and education. They completed this really cool study in 2005, "Companion Animal Renters and Pet-Friendly Housing in the United States." If you're a numbers geek like my Human you can read the whole article, but if not, they are essentially trying to use facts, statistics and research to show landlords that it's a good thing for them to allow pets -- we actually do less damage than children and we stay longer at their rental properties. We also cost them in less in marketing their properties.

FirePaw has also developed the Companion Animal Renters Program which is a 7-step program to assist landlords in making the transition to offering pet-friendly housing. Now don't get me wrong ... i know that Osso has since been adopted by a very loving family. But wouldn't it have been better for Osso, and his previous owner, if they could've stayed together? That would've also opened up a foster slot for Pet Haven that could've gone to another dog. It's better for us, and it's better for the Humans if we can keep them together. I'm so glad FirePaw is doing studies and coming up with programs to help landlords see the benefits of pet-friendly housing. They also give good tips for owners on how to find, keep and enjoy pet-friendly rentals. One suggestion is a pet resume [Click here for the full article]. And on that resume they suggest listing things like age, weight, special personality traits, references from groomers, vet, doggie daycares, even a photo ... and any special training. I think i'm going to have my Human work on my resume now ... i have lots of great photos where I'm posing :) AND I can also put on my resume that I volunteer at The Lab AND that i'm a Canine Good Citizen!

There's also another really cool organization that's formed here in Minnesota called The Pet Project. Their mission is to help keep people and their pets together by providing pet food and basic supplies to those who are struggling. They're also working to make connections with vets to provide lower cost care and to be a resource for pet-friendly housing.

If you can help us stay with our families ... then that's fewer of us landing at the intake lobbies of open-admission shelters or taking up a foster slot!

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