Four months into our South LA Shelter Intervention Program, we have surpassed 1000 pets intercepted from entering the shelter. Remember, our goal was 400 for the year Because of a team effort, we have far surpassed that modest goal in just four months.
Considering that the area that the South LA shelter serves, consists of zip codes of poverty, we know that surrendering a pet is more often a symptom of a greater challenge the family is facing, where 1 in 4 households earn less than $25,000 a year. On average families living in South LA need an income of roughly twice the official poverty level to meet their basic needs. Only 8.2% of residents 25 and older have a four-year degree. The majority of families rent, 63.1% of households are renters. Add all of this up and one can see a lack of employment, secure affordable housing and community action based neighborhoods result in more pets being surrendered at the shelter.
Despite a decrease in crime, in some of the more violent areas, it’s still common for children to have a “live for today attitude”. The idea of planning for the future and living in one place for an extended period of time, where the family can have a pet is often unlikely. The majority of people, over 70%, who bring a pet to the shelter to surrender, do not want to surrender their pet. It’s a lack of resources that drives them to surrender not a lack of caring about that pet.
The sole purpose of this blog post is to get the message out about the negative impact poverty has on all aspects of a family’s life, including the family pet. If you don’t know how you are going to pay rent on the first of the month, every month or how you are going to feed your child, buy him back to school clothes, provide for a secure future, the family dog or cat ranks pretty far down on the list, despite how much one loves their pet.
For this reason, we provide free spay/neuter and vaccinations, free dog training, reduced fee or free medical care for treatable illnesses like mange, an ear infection. We work with the family to promote a safe environment for their dog, installing a gate, building a dog run or repairing a fence. We also give families options about how to say goodbye to a senior pet, offering an alternative to dropping a sick/injured dying dog or cat at the shelter. Our vet reduces his fees for us to pay for humane euthanasia so that humane euthanasia is free to the pet owner, creating a more peaceful transition for the pet and peace of mind for the family.
A question that comes up often, even among our team is how come the shelter is still full if our program is so successful? Won’t we ever see a day where there will be more empty runs/cages than pets coming into the shelter? Consider our number 1000 plus pets prevented from entering the shelter now consider all those cats, dogs and rabbits entering the shelter, causing the animals already in the shelter to have less time to be adopted before they are euthanized. The good news is that animals are available for longer periods of time before they are euthanized for space. Another positive result is that people are bringing their pets to the shelter when they can no longer care for them instead of abandoning them on the street, which sadly is still common in parts of South LA. The shelter is a safe place for a cat or dog to live with an opportunity to be adopted. We have to remember this as we continue to prevent more pets from entering the shelter by offering options and solutions to meet the individual needs of each pet owner.
Please consider donating to Downtown Dog Rescue. All donations go straight to the program. If you haven’t already, please follow us on Facebook and/or Twitter. You can also help by continuing to spread the word. Downtown Dog Rescue is a non-profit 501C3 (#46-1958507) tax deductible charity.