Having survived 2020, one would think that any year would be an improvement. And in many ways, circumstances have improved for many people and their pets over the past two years. But plenty of new challenges have arisen from the ashes of 2020. And now, many people and animals are struggling with post-pandemic problems.
Animal shelters and rescue groups are hovering at or beyond capacity after people who adopted pets during the pandemic are now giving them up because of increasing costs of pet care, loss of housing, or returning to in-person work. Donations to animal charities are down as people struggle to make ends meet in a challenging economy.
Many pet owners, especially seniors and low-income families on fixed or shrinking incomes, are struggling to feed and provide veterinary care for their beloved pets. Exacerbating the problem is a nation-wide shortage of veterinarians and vet techs, which has made getting even routine vet care and spay/neuter surgeries a challenge.
Mental health issues and homelessness are on the rise – creating additional challenges for people and their pets.
Now, another holiday season is upon us, and many people are asking what can I do to bring about positive change?
Our suggestion: Make a list, and check it twice. Then do it!
Adopt a pet. Given the struggles many people have keeping their pets these days, that might sound tone-deaf. But it’s not – the fact is, plenty of people have the will and the means to add a new member to their family. Just be sure if you adopt that you’re prepared for the lifetime commitment. Consider adopting a senior or special needs pet – they need homes just as much as any other pet.
Foster. Fostering for a shelter or rescue group is truly lifesaving. Many rescue organization rely exclusively upon foster volunteers to care for their animals. Fostering a pet for a crowded shelter increases their capacity to save lives. Additionally, donating to rescue organizations helps them to accomplish more and save more lives.
Volunteer at a shelter to help overworked staff members provide dog walks, cat socializing, and other critical services for the animals in their care.
Donate to your local shelter or rescue groups. Pet food, supplies, and monetary donations are desperately needed by many rescue organizations faced with rising costs and shrinking budgets. To learn about the many ways you can donate to Animal Care Centers of NYC (ACC), visit https://www.nycacc.org/get-involved/donate.
Help someone close to home. Just look around at your circle of family, friends, and neighbors. Is there a senior or disabled person who needs help walking their dog or changing the cat litter…buying pet food or taking their pet to a vet appointment? A simple act of kindness can go a long way to easing the burden for a pet owner in need of help.
Volunteer for an organization that provides pet care assistance to needy populations, such as PAWS NY. Donate to Feeding Pets of the Homeless, which focuses on feeding and providing emergency care to pets of homeless people. Donate pet food or supplies to a local shelter that runs a pet food pantry or other services for pet owners.
During the holidays it’s easy to become caught up in activities that enrich our own experience and those of our family and friends. But by looking beyond our immediate orbit and expanding our capacity for good will, each of us can have a positive impact on someone who needs help.
Throughout the year, the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals has been privileged to connect hundreds of people with services and resources to meet their needs as caring and responsible pet owners. We routinely hear from people who have not been able to locate resources or get the information they need to care for their pets. We have endeavored to help create positive outcomes for New York City’s pets and the people who love them. But we cannot do it alone. We are so grateful to our loyal supporters who make it possible for us to continue our work. You are our heroes, and champions for New York City’s animals. To you and your family, we wish safe and healthy holidays. And may your new year be filled with hope and good fortune!