Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Like An Old Costello Song

I can't make up my mind about the holidays.

On the one hand, I love Christmas music, the twinkly lights and decorations and the cheer. It's nice hearing from old acquaintances (usually via Christmas cards) and if one is real lucky, one gets to see and spend time with loved ones once again.

But, I hate the holidays in terms of animal rescue and adoptions.

The needs for animal "rescue" increase as it is sadly customary for many people to dump pets just prior to any kind of holiday or vacation travel.

But, at the same time, adoption opportunities decrease significantly for exactly the same reasons:

It doesn't make sense to adopt a pet when one is making holiday travel plans.

Being in rescue as long as I've been, I am very used to the predictable drop offs in adoptions, usually starting in November and continuing until just after the New Year.

But, its never been as bad as it is right now.

We had a couple of good weeks in the beginning of October when a number of our dogs were adopted -- in most cases, by their foster people.

But, about the time the stock markets plunged and the sinking economy became front page news, so too, did our adoption inquiries suddenly tank.

We haven't had one animal adoption since the middle of October.

Meanwhile, the pressure on rescue groups is particularly intense right now, as cats and dogs are pouring into shelters in numbers we haven't seen in years.

I can't come online without being inundated with dozens of emails each day -- each one, a desperate plea (complete with pictures) for particular animals about to go down in the shelters:

"Missy to die today! Please help!" "We are swamped with kittens! Rescue needed!" "Our favorite dogs on the Euth list! Please help!" "If not rescued, Joey to die today!"

On and on it goes.

So bad, that I just suggested to a particular email list I am on, that shelter volunteers and staffers need to seek out other strategies and avenues to try and save some of the animals and raise badly needed funds.

"You can't keep going to same well over and over," I wrote. "We in rescue are overwhelmed and nothing is moving for us. This information needs to go to the public. The public creates the problem and ultimately, only the public can solve it. I am not opening most of these pleas now. They are guilt-tripping and demoralizing."

Some of us are talking now of meeting and trying to figure other strategies.

But, I personally don't know what strategy works right now.

Without public enlightenment and engagement, we and the animals are screwed.

It's as simple as that.

And so, yes, the time of year may be beautiful in terms of the changing colors, occasional snow, inspiring and spiritual music and holiday "cheer" and good tidings.

But, for those dedicated individuals volunteering or working in shelters and scrambling to save some of the animals or those in rescue, the times are as dark as a sinking well.

As with so many other things in life, I have a "love/hate" relationship with the holidays -- especially Christmas.

It seems it fails to live up to its promises of "peace, love, giving and understanding." -- sort of like an old Elvis Costello song. -- PCA

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