It’s raining as I write this – sprinkling, to be exact – but it’s April, a month defined by showers of hope and promise – the month when spring begins!
For me, it’s also a month of mixed feelings and fresh nuggets. Two arrived just yesterday – tuxedo kittens, clearly literary types, named Franny and Zooey – and then there’s Mamma Edamame, a gorgeous Russian Blue, with her babies, Wasabi, Sake, and Miso. And then there’s Ralphie, Huck, and Finn, and 1-year-old Teddy Bear, who was dumped at a deli in Brooklyn. And then there’s Mamma Sweetie Pie, just a baby herself, who had a litter of five, plus she accepted a motherless baby as her own. And Willoughby, a handsome adult waiting for adoption at North Shore. And then…And then…
In other words, kitten season is in full swing again at our house. Howard and I love each one of our fosters, but our love is bittersweet, because we know that around the world there are cats and kittens as unique as these who face bleak futures because they will suddenly go from adorable to homeless.
If I didn’t volunteer with North Shore Animal League America I wouldn’t have the special joy of caring for these wonderful cats and kittens. Volunteering has given me purpose in this world, every day and every month of the year.
So when April arrives with its showers of kittens, I remind myself that this is also National Volunteer Appreciation Month. I deeply appreciate the chance to volunteer for Animal League America. And at the same time, I appreciate all the hard-working, roll-up-their-sleeves volunteers at North Shore and shelters around the world. I think most volunteers would agree that there are few things in life as rewarding as doing something you love for the sheer joy of it. I honestly don’t think animal welfare could have made the strides it’s made in recent years without volunteers. I hope you’ll look around your own community this month and find an animal shelter or rescue group that needs you, a reliable, responsible, and creative volunteer.
Fostering nursing mothers and their babies is one of the most important – and thrilling – responsibilities a volunteer can take on, especially during kitten season. After just one or two litters I guarantee you’ll be as dedicated an advocate of spay/neuter as I am. Addressing the problem of pet homelessness means telling people to spay and neuter their own pets immediately and to support sterilization clinics and programs in their communities. Until everyone is educated to adopt homeless pets, we’ll be facing the problem of too many pets and too few homes – and the necessity of spay/neuter.
The other answer to pet homelessness is adoption. Animal League America has adopted more than one million homeless pets since 1944, and spring is a busy time for our adoption programs. In March and April, there’s Tour For Life, with the grand finale in Columbus Circle, in Manhattan, on April 21. This year, Tour For Life sent mobile adoption units to 54 cities in 32 states where we helped local groups find homes for their pets. We anticipate more than 2,000 dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens will find new homes this year.
In May, Global Pet Adoptathon Begins. More than 2,000 shelters will take part in the U.S., and another 14 in countries around the world. Last year, this extraordinary event helped 39,658 pets find homes! So amazing!
When Howard and I adopted our six resident cats, we talked a lot about adoption. We agreed that we’d adopt only adult cats or those with special needs, and we’ve stuck to that agreement, including our precious Bella, who’s blind and has asthma and allergies. We recently took her for a routine vet visit, another good thing to do in April – a sort of spring tune-up for your pets that promotes health and wellness, especially for senior kitties and those like Bella who have health issues.
But despite her problems, Bella is a very lucky cat, and I think she knows it. We adore her, care for her, feed her a quality diet, and make sure she’s entertained, stimulated, and loved. Yes, she’s one of the lucky ones.
Sadly, not all pets are as lucky as yours and ours, and perhaps the least lucky of all are the dogs of Yulin, China. I’d rather not end on such a dark and tragic note, but the world has to know this story. So PLEASE…I BEG… ANIMAL LOVERS…Sign the petition to try to put an end to the Yulin Dog Meat “Festival.” It’s a horror scheduled to take place in June. PLEASE. It’s our responsibility to face this nightmare together so we can make it stop. And ask your friends to sign the petition, too. The more signatures, the louder our voice.
North Shore Animal League America is proud of its national SpayUSA program, which is increasing access to low-cost spay/neuter from coast to coast. In 2016, SpayUSA maintained a database of more than 1,800 low-cost sterilization programs and clinics with more than 7,000 veterinarians nationwide. Our access to this extensive information allowed us to provide referrals to 26,723 clients for 58,791 animals, helping to prevent countless numbers of litters and hundreds of thousands of homeless dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens. For more information, visit www.spayusa.org or call 1.800.248.SPAY (1.800.248.7729.)