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It’s a proven fact: as sterilization rates have risen, the number of euthanized pets has decreased. Today, 35 percent of the dogs and cats in U.S. households are not spayed or neutered, and can produce millions of unwanted puppies and kittens.
So, 4 million pets are being euthanized every year.
Part of the reason is that there are many communities out there whose residents have not been engaged in a positive way and need help accessing care for valued members of their family: their pets.
What’s #1 reason people don’t sterilize their pets? Cost.
Veterinary care for all pets
That’s why the Humane Society of the United States started their Pets for Life program.
Their goal is to help remove barriers to accessible and affordable veterinary care, including spay/neuter, for pet owners in certain communities.
Pets for Life is a two-pronged program. It:
The goal? Extend the reach of animal welfare services, resources, and information while increasing awareness of the severe disparities in animal care in underserved communities.
New model, new learnings
The work that HSUS does on the ground emphasizes the human touch—approaching people with respect. People love their pets—and want to make the healthiest decisions for them if resources and information are provided.
But this is a novel new program and model for many animal welfare organizations. To truly have a broader impact, we all need to learn from each other and work together.
That’s why PetSmart Charities® funded the Pets for Life Community Outreach Toolkit. This step-by-step manual serves as a guide to developing and implementing this pioneering outreach program. It’s a collaboration between PetSmart Charities® and The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
We discussed the Pets for Life program a lot at HSUS Expo in May. In fact, PetSmart Charities announced a $400,000 grant to provide direct, hands-on community outreach training to 10 markets across the country, starting in Fall 2012.
We all love our pets
At Expo, we heard from several program managers who operate Pets for Life programs in their cities. They shared how misconceptions can prevent people and pets from receiving the care they need. They also described how dignity, respect and building trust can go far when serving communities in need. Later, many attendees participated in educational sessions devoted to applying Pets for Life concepts and programs in new cities.
We can certainly learn a lot from each other’s experiences. But I think the basic premise of the Pets for Life program is best explained in one, simple quote that opens our Pets for Life toolkit:
“If you judge people, then you have no time to love them.” —Mother Teresa