How You Can Help

I was procrastinating on Facebook, as usual, scrolling through what seemed to be a slog of ads and stupid Buzzfeed quizzes like “Choose your favorite Hollister Clothing and We’ll Guess Your Age”(They didn’t get it right, obviously), when my friend posted on her page about the Yulin Festival. She shared a link from Change.org, where you can sign petitions for various causes, ranging from animal rights cases to political stances and other social issues you feel deserve attention.

There, staring at me, unavoidably, was a photo of what appeared to be around 10-15 dogs rounded up in a large net. Their bodies were intertwined, tails sticking out, eyes full of fear. If you’re not familiar with this festival, it is an “event” (I hate even calling it that) that occurs in Southern China each year. People round up at least 10,000-15,000 dogs, butcher and skin them alive, then feed them to the people. Why? I have no idea why this started. I can’t even stomach to look and search for why this has occurred. I’d like someone to educate me.

Yes, I can go on Google and find out, and face the hard truth, but I’ll probably throw up in horror. And that’s precisely the point.

Of course, like we tend to do, I put it in the back of my mind. If we don’t see it, it will go away and be forgotten.

So, I did, and went on with my life.

Then tonight, I was reading an article from Real Simple about a family in Maine who rescues abused and neglected dogs from all over the country, and rehabilitates them back to health so they can find their forever homes. They talked about a dog who had been beaten by a bat and left to die in a crate by their owner. The dog survived, but has permanent brain damage, and will never be able to function normally.

After I read this article, my blood boiled, and I immediately got on here and started writing.

As most people are guilty of (I sure am), we tend to sit back and not do anything, because we either feel we’re too busy, or don’t know where to start, or just figure someone else will take care of the problem.

A while back, I started volunteering with a local animal rescue, who saves dogs from a high-kill shelter in Tennessee and brings them to their shelter in Connecticut, where they work tirelessly to place these neglected dogs into forever homes.

I was so excited to start. I LOVE dogs, as I clearly design stationery around them for a living! I committed to volunteering every Saturday. I had a few hours to spare, why not use them for a good cause?

And I did, for a few weeks. I put on my “ready to work with dogs” clothes with a “take-charge” attitude, ready to go. I offered to take photos for the website, come to their fundraisers, even research the dogs before the adoption event so I could educate potential adopters on which dogs would be best for their family.

It was all well and good, until I got “too busy”, or even a couple of times I was lazy. I would cancel at the last minute, because I wanted to do something else that morning or an event came up. I would tell myself “next weekend I’ll help out!”, but weekends flew by, and my workload increased.

I kept looking at their Facebook page, seeing all the wonderful dogs getting adopted, photos from events, volunteers forming friendships. All of the things I wanted so badly to do, but continued making excuses.

This morning, I put on that volunteer shirt, and realized I haven’t worn it yet. I haven’t yet earned the right to wear this shirt.

So, in honor of all the people who work tirelessly to help dogs find a better life, here are ways we can help:

  • Volunteer! There are so many dog rescues out there that need your help! Help them walk the dogs for an afternoon, play with them at the shelter, help clean up the shelter. The point is, there are SO many things they need! Click here to find a local rescue in your area. 
  • Use those design skills!  volunteermatch.comI was just starting out as a designer, and wanted to gain some experience and add to my portfolio. I went on, and looked for animal rescues that needed someone to design their quarterly newsletters. Since 2013, I have worked with a great organization in Tennessee, and it’s highly rewarding!
  •  Photograph Dogs! If you’ve been on Petfinder lately, as I do everyday, a lot of the rescues have poor quality photographs for their dogs, which doesn’t show off their beauty or personality! So take those novice camera skills and start snapping away!
  • Share, Share, Share! See a video or article that bothers you? Share it! Make people aware! Chances are they may just quickly read it and delete the email, but it may influence a family or friend to get involved.
  • Foster! Love dogs but can’t own one? Take a dog away from the harsh environment of a shelter and give them a warm home. Dogs who have been fostered are much more likely to be adopted. Show them they are deserving of love!
  • Support Businesses that Give Back! There are tons of great products for dogs that give a portion of their proceeds to charities in need. Check out this link for some great options.
  • ADOPT! This is the best thing you can do! There are SO MANY DOGS out there that need a home, and you could be just the one they’re looking for! Check Petfinder, Adoptapet.com, or your local rescue! Follow some of your favorite rescues on Instagram (mine is @susiesseniordogs) to find stories about the dogs they’re rescuing.

So, what was the point of all of this? Was it to make me feel less guilty and to tell you to take action? Was it to remind me to actually follow through with volunteering? Maybe to remember my mother who spent countless hours helping others?

Probably all of those things. But I can rescue the dog who has been beaten by their owner or left to starve and fend for themselves for two months. (Yes, this actually happened. Yes, the dog survived, barely). No, I probably won’t stop the horrible Yulin Festival from happening, but maybe I can help and make up for the horrible human being who would actually do this to an animal who wants nothing more than to be loved and kept safe.

 

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