The Dire Plight of America’s Pets Today

It’s hard to believe that my pet rescue efforts began in earnest eight years ago now, after half a million dogs and cats were left behind to fend for themselves in Hurricane Katrina.

Katrina's catsLike so many other pet lovers, I found myself traveling down to America’s Gulf Coast four times following this devastating storm.  We managed to rescue about 15,000 abandoned dogs and cats, and we eventually began shipping them all across the country to shelters and foster homes.

I had promised my spouse that I wouldn’t bring any of them home, but I soon broke my promise to her.  When I found Junior, he was almost dead from starvation and dehydration, and I didn’t think that he would make it through the night.  But he did, and I just couldn’t leave him behind this time.

I found Tater at a devastated motor home park right on the ocean, and once he crawled up into the safety of my old truck, he did not want to leave it.  He and I soon became partners, traveling around together rescuing other abandoned pets, and he eventually traveled with me back to my home.

FlowerI found Flower the Cat on my last day at our pet rescue camp, or she found me.  As I walked past the row upon row of rescued cats in their tiny cages, she stuck her paw out, grabbed my arm, and she wouldn’t let go. The woman now caring for all of these rescued homeless cats proclaimed:  “She has picked you!”  How could I leave her behind?

And today, eight years later, all three of these Katrina survivors still reside in my home, and all three of them are truly appreciative survivors.

I thought that I had seen the worst of pet abandonment in America after this devastating storm, but I was very sadly wrong.  A few years after Hurricane Katrina struck, America’s economy hit rock bottom, we were on the verge of a Depression, and people soon began abandoning their once beloved pets – nationwide.

A few years after Katrina, someone abandoned a little Rat Terrier in a park near my home, and I spent the next month attempting to rescue him.  He was terrified, starving, and homeless, just like all of those left behind Katrina animals had been, and I was finally able to rescue Little Jack and give him a new home.

Little Renny cowering in fearAnd soon, it was as if a Pet Abandonment Flood Gate had suddenly opened all across America, and there were now abandoned pets everywhere.  I suddenly started receiving phone calls and e-mails about abandoned pets just about every week.

Once again, I was rescuing left behind pets, everywhere.  They were being dumped in parks; they were being left behind in foreclosed houses; in forest preserves; along lonely stretches of railroad tracks; on interstate highways; and they were all now aimlessly wandering city streets, alleys, and rural areas in America in search of food, water, and a little kindness.

I can’t even count the number of abandoned pets that I’ve helped rescue in the eight years since Hurricane Katrina in my own hometown, and neither can my fellow pet rescuers in their own hometowns all across America. We have thankfully been able to find many of them loving new homes, and we have taken in many of them ourselves that no one else wanted.

Little Renny safe and unafraid with EdAnd very thankfully, I have an extremely understanding spouse, and she has become the loving guardian to numerous small dogs that I’ve rescued from the mean city streets in the last several years.  We affectionately call them our little ‘Poopers.’  And I have a fondness for large dogs that I’ve rescued from the streets, and we affectionately call them our ‘Beasty Boys.’  But whether large or small, all of our former street orphans are truly wonderful and truly appreciative dogs.  We also have several cats that have shown up at our door in search of a little kindness, and they are wonderful pets as well.

But today, eight years after Hurricane Katrina, animal shelters all across America are so very sadly all overflowing with relinquished and abandoned dogs and cats of every size, shape, breed, and age.  And we pet rescuers now very sadly see no end in sight to their dire plight.  America’s pets deserve far better, from each and every one of us.

Please Adopt, Don’t Shop, For Your Next Pet; and Please Consider Giving a Second Chance at Life to a Very Deserving Abandoned Pet In Your Own Hometown.

©August 2013, Ed Kostro

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