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Norwich Bulletin - 2/14/2010

It's Time To Love The Animals

It's Valentine's Day. The economy is terrible and there are animals being abandoned and starving and being left to die all over the state. Craig's list is full of ads from people desperate to find people to adopt their pets because they have lost their jobs, their apartments, and their homes. The calls for cat and dog food by those struggling to be able to keep their pets, or those kind hearts who are rescuing the animals that have been abandoned have gone up at least 50% in the last year.

The State has given the small groups no money to help spay and neuter the ferals or the strays that low income families have taken in. Our own donations have gone down over 50% this year - and we understand. No-one has any extra money these days.

But it is Valentines Day and my guess is that there will be a lot of people who will still buy their honeys beautiful bouquets of roses and very large boxes of chocolate. But there are other ways to show your love, especially if your partner loves animals.

My favorite gift is one beautiful red rose and a sentimental card that includes a note telling me that a donation has been made in my name to a rescue. Even though I run Helping Paws, I also have a different animal rescue that I try and support whenever I can, and this is a perfect opportunity.

My husband knows how much I love our animals and that it hurts me to see all of the homeless and uncared for cats that end up in kill shelters through no fault of their own. So for him to donate cat food to a shelter, or to supply a spay/neuter voucher in my name, means so very much to me. And I is even more special to me because I know that men in general, do not know what to write or do for a special day - it doesn't come easy to most husbands, and mine is no exception.

If there is any way that you can afford to bring in another pet, and you both love animals, what a perfect way to share that love! Especially if you open your hearts and homes to an older dog or cat, who has lost his home due to our failing economy! Older and less than perfect animals up for adoption are oftentimes the most special of all. Take Zachary, who was fifteen years old when he lost his home.

A young woman found him in a kill shelter on a past Valentines Day. He was thin and sad and full of ticks. And yet, Zachary had once lived with his elderly owner and had been very much loved and spoiled. He had no idea what happened to him. You see, when his person died, the other family members wanted to part of an old cat and so he was left in a cage with strangers, without a backwards glance. So all Zachary knew was that he was alone and caged and he was very depressed.

But this young woman, who had been raised to help those most in need took Zachary out of the shelter and brought him to a home with older women who immediately fell in love with him. They gave Zachary a gift of love that Valentines Day and continued to care for him for another five years! Oh he was thin and a little scraggly looking but his purr and his love more than made up for his looks. He ended up being the favorite. And although he received a tremendous gift of love, those who became his new owners would tell you that they are the ones that received a gift.

Last Valentine's Day an acquaintance decided to give an elderly dog a home. Bart was a funny looking little black dog with a very white muzzle and he walked very slowly. This boy was a true senior citizen. His family moved and at the age of eleven, he found himself at a pound!

There was very little home that this old man would find a home. He wasn't just in the winter of his life; his winter was actually ending. Well, she could not let Bart die alone after spending his whole life taking care of his family. So Bart spent last Valentine's Day in a comfortable, warm house with good food and even some new toys. He only lived six months - but those six months were a beautiful gift to both of them.

And I have my own old cat story. It was February a few years ago when I found an old Tom cat on the side of the road in Norwich. He was skinny and pretty beat up and it was obvious he had survived on the streets for many years. But when I went to pet him, he purred and I decided that he needed to come home with me. We had him neutered and treated for all kinds of parasites. He was about twelve and test showed he was in the beginning stages of kidney failure.

We named him Socrates. After all, he stayed alive for a lot of years so he had to be pretty smart. But he was tired and that was obvious. Socrates got a new bed and he ate as much food as he wanted to. He was so happy every time the dinner bowl came out. We gave him his own room with catnip and television and he used the litter like a perfect gentleman.

Socrates was only with us four a couple of months, but he spent those months very much loved. I hope we somehow made up for the years he was alone with no-one to take care of him - with no-one to love him.

So, yes, it is Valentine's Day. And do you really need another box of candy? Or would you rather see a starving feral cat be fed for a couple of weeks? Because that is what the price of a large box of candy or a dozen roses will do for a homeless animal. If you cannot adopt because you are afraid of your own economic future, then buy some premium dog or cat food, or make a donation to your local group.

But if you can afford to take in a new pet this Valentine's Day - please visit your local shelter and bring home a needy cat or dog. And if you don't want a really long commitment at this time, then find an old dog or cat who really needs you, and make his last days special. I guarantee they will also be special for you.

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