There is a road that leads to Rainbow Bridge.
A road that might have started for some animals from a home; or a street; or a shelter.
But before these animals’ lives are ended (often much too soon), because they were surrendered by their family; or because they were dumped on the side of the road; or because they were the product of a stray’s litter, they have a chance.
A chance to be saved.
And Lord knows, we use that small window of time as much as we can. But it’s not always enough. Too often, it doesn’t come close to being enough, despite our hardest efforts.
What happens when these animals are in a shelter, waiting for that adopter or rescue to come through, but not realizing that if one fails to come through, it will mean the end of their life? We know it means the end, but that animal never has a concept of “the end.” When the shelter staff member comes to his or her cage when it reaches the end, the animal simply thinks he or she is going on a walk. The innocence is heartbreaking.
What happens when shelters are so full that there’s simply not enough space or time to get an accurate description of an animal to promote him or her to social networks? Or to share his personality on Petfinder? Every animal deserves to have a long list of attriubtes and pretty pictures, but that’s not always the case.
What happens when dogs and cats are brought into shelters and before anyone can even truly know they’re alive and in need, they’re gone? Forever?
I know these are questions we animal advocates ask ourselves on a daily basis.
We see posts from desperate Facebook friends, urging us to share for this dog or that cat. And then, before we can even generate a thought about it, this dog or that cat is suddenly in the “Gone but not forgotten” album.
It was just too late. It seems like more often than not, it’s just too late.
So we share the success stories. We cheer when a favorite animal at the shelter gets out and is put into the arms of a wonderful forever family. But we have such a hard time forgetting, in all of that happiness, about the animals that never had the opportunity to find that forever home.
I look into the eyes of the animals at the shelter, or into the eyes of animals in the pictures in the “Urgent” albums on Facebook, and try to imagine these animals running in a yard. Or cuddling up on a couch. Or basking in sunlight.
I try to imagine them just being happy.
Things some of these poor animals will never, ever know.
And granted, these animals are not in a worse place once they’re gone. They’re no longer starving, or abandoned, or scared, or sick. They’re safe.
But they’re not in homes, where they could have lived out the rest of their lives in happiness and security. That’s what gets me the most. What could have been. Especially for the animals that are so young, so full of life.
So I urge all of you, more than ever before, to please share with your networks the importance of responsible pet ownership. That means spaying and neutering your pets. There is no need to breed when shelters and rescues are so full.
All the animal advocates know the importance of adoption versus pet store purchasing, so make sure all your friends know this! Share it on your personal pages and tell random people in front of pet stores. The more we spread the message, the more we can cut down on shelter overpopulation.
Share your local shelters’ urgent pet lists with all your friends. Maybe one of them will really speak to someone they know, someone who might otherwise not have been interested in adopting a pet right now.
Maybe one of your friends will share it on his page, and then a distant aunt or cousin or friend from college will decide to make a trip out to adopt that pet. We can’t discount the importance of social media when it comes to animal welfare.
If you think to yourself, “Should I share this”? the answer is a resounding YES. You cannot overshare if it means you might save a life.
There is a long road that leads animals to Rainbow Bridge. Let’s try to postpone their arrival there.