It can be a daily struggle for many pet professionals who bear witness to animal abuse whether it’s through a social media feed, in person rescuing an abused pet, a veterinarian treating an abused animal or shelter staff taking in one or 100 abused pets. It can really weigh on your soul. However, there are many people working to help stop cruelty to animals, saving animals on a daily basis from staying in the wrong hands as well as providing education. I am lucky to know some tremendous animal rescuers saving animals and also educating pet owners and communities on how they can properly treat their pets.
One person who helps dogs and cats in her local community from being abused and neglected and also helps owners become educated in proper animal care is Linda Klampfl of the nonprofit organization Almost Home Animal Rescue & Adoption Inc. based in Bohemia, New York. In 2003, Linda became credentialed with Training Wheels, a program for shelters created by Sue Sternberg in upstate New York. Training Wheels takes pet care services out to the community instead of waiting for people to need a shelter, typically at the end of their relationship with their pet. Located on Long Island, Linda found that the need for the Training Wheels program was much different in a suburban community versus a rural community. Almost Home created a humane community outreach program that provides free spay and neuter, veterinary care and pet supplies to those in need throughout Suffolk County, New York.
But it really goes beyond that. Sadly, dogs are still chained up in backyards, which is illegal in Suffolk County but not always enforced. These dogs endure harsh frigid winters, hot humid summers, many tied up for their entire lives without proper shelter, veterinary care or human interaction. And often there is abuse on top of that.
Linda and her incredible team at Almost Home go in with the attitude of helping in a nonjudgmental way. They provide education and encouragement, teaching dog owners to bring their dogs inside; help them by providing proper doghouses and tie outs versus heavy chains; spay/neuter (including transport to and from the veterinary offices); and give pet food, toys and treats for the dogs in their program.
For those who refuse to bring their dogs inside, Linda’s team gives them straw, warm, proper doghouses and visits the more than 130 homes in their program monthly to ensure the dogs are being fed and cared for. The upside is that many dogs are now living indoors as full parts of the family because of the education provided.
If it is a bad situation, they call in the police to enforce the anti-tethering law in Suffolk County. But most of the houses and families that Linda and her team work with are very receptive to and thankful for their help. Almost Home works tirelessly to provide a change for these dogs and cats to live a better life, and some owners even turn their dogs in to the Almost Home shelter, giving them the chance at a better life once adopted out.
Guardians of Rescue (GOR) started in 2010 and is based on Long Island, New York. It has approximately 400 volunteers across the country doing similar outreach to Almost Home and also helps pets and their owners during natural disasters like the hurricanes in Texas and Florida in 2017.
“We do a lot of outreach all over the country; most of the cruelty we see is negligence in many different forms,” says Robert Misseri, founder and President of Guardians of Rescue. “We work daily to prevent backyard breeders who don’t care for their dogs and often get in over their heads with sick mother dogs and puppies that don’t make it. We often get calls from some of these breeders who then turn their dogs over to us.”
Their outreach includes getting dogs off of heavy chains, into heated and insulated doghouses and even providing full fencing for the dog owner’s yard or fencing an area just for the dog to be able to run around in. They also provide regular veterinary care to dogs and cats that are abused and neglected as well as providing dog trainers for owners who are open to the help and can’t afford dog training.
Guardians of Rescue works alongside the ASPCA on their community engagement in the five boroughs of New York City that used to be the cruelty intervention unit. The goal is to identify dogs left out in the cold, tied up on chains or to get the owners to surrender the dogs. GOR goes far and wide to really give these dogs a much better life. Some people don’t have the financial needs to treat their animal — and GOR helps by providing the proper care that the dog needs.
“We go the extra mile for the people that don’t go the extra mile for their dog,” Misseri says.
GOR also recently purchased a 26-foot mobile veterinary truck to go into low-income areas across Long Island providing veterinary care. Guardians of Rescue is a nonprofit organization funded by small donations. Every day of the year a GOR person is out doing something for a pet in need.
#pawsforthiscause — What can you do to fight cruelty to animals?
- If you see abuse or extreme neglect being done to an animal, say something! If you know it is happening, alert the police, animal shelter, local SPCA and even your local veterinarian office. Sometimes you may have to contact the authorities multiple times. Or contact a local animal organization that can work with the owner, like one with a Training Wheels program.
- How can you help beyond reporting someone? If you are an animal rescue expert, offer free classes on dog training, nutrition, health and pet laws in your area. Get volunteer dog trainers and veterinarians to help you. Many times people just need to be educated on the topic to do better for their animals.
- If you can’t volunteer, donating to local animal rescues and welfare organizations is a way to help them continue what they do. Sharing information and learning about what happens in your own community when it comes to animal cruelty may just help make the difference in one dog’s life today.
Nancy Hassel is the pet parent of Pit Bull Cody and the president of American Pet Professionals, an award-winning business networking and educational organization for the pet industry since 2009. Nancy travels the country as a speaker, media and public relations specialist, working with pet companies in many aspects including event planning and training for pet professionals. Find her on Instagram and Twitter at @AmericanPetPros.
Editor’s note: This article first appeared in Dogster magazine. Have you seen the new Dogster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? Subscribe now to get Dogster magazine delivered straight to you!
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