Keep this pet living at home, thanks to your sponsorship. Yes, we can!
Two of the biggest reasons that those sponsor-a-Third-World-child campaigns work are these: that the kids are so darned cute and hopeful and that the people donating the $20 or $50 a month understand that their money isn't just some drop in a vast, nameless bucket, destined to do good but in some broad-brush way. It's pledged to one child, one life.
Pet lovers need to step up to do the same. Every week, hundreds upon hundreds of dogs and cats are turned in at shelters, because their families can't afford to feed and care for them.
I've been at the shelter, and I've seen it -- crying children and grim-faced parents, surrendering their four-legged family member: the family cat locked in a cage, the family dog led away, whimpering, on a leash to a concrete floor and a likely death at the end of a needle.
The animal-loving world can set up the same model as the sponsor-a-child program.
Instead of all those families, all those elderly people forced to give up their beloved critters, let's set up a sponsorship program.
"For ten, fifteen, twenty dollars a month, you can make sure this pet can stay with the family who loves him, or her. Here's a picture -- cute, eh?" Good stories too.
Let's make up one. Let's imagine Max, who lives with two kids and a divorced mom in an apartment in East L.A. He takes turns sleeping on each kid's bed at night. He waits by the door every afternoon when school's out. The kids think of Max as their brother. Won't you help keep Max in his home, with people who love him? Your gift buys Max's food and basic medical care like vaccinations and flea treatments. It keeps him at home, with a family, and out of a short, lonely existence and probably death at a shelter.
There's a good point to be made that people who can't afford to take care of critters shouldn't adopt them, but these hard times have turned the solvent into the supplicants. Pets shouldn't be the "collateral damage" to a collapsed economy.
And government agencies should be happy to help -- every pet kept out of a shelter is a lot of money and one life saved. The sponsorship pledge can go to vouchers redeemable at pet stores, like food stamps for cats and dogs, and the stores should be offering discounts, considering all the new business they'd be getting.
So how about it? Who can set up this kind of matchmaking service? I'm sure there are myriad animal lovers all ready to call and keep Max, and thousands of Maxes, in their homes. Let's have operators standing by, soon!
-- Patt Morrison
Photo: Roscoe (ID# A1068764), a 3-year-old neutered mastiff mix, stands in for the fictional Max -- but unlike Max, he's real (and in need of a new home!). Meet him in person at the West L.A. animal shelter, 1361 W. Pico Blvd. (near the intersection of Pico and Sawtelle boulevards), or call (888) 452-7381 with his ID number for more information.