Stories about abandoned and sick pets are painful to read, especially this time of year. And it's natural to want to help. But what if you can't house another pooch or are simply allergic to cat fur? In that case, fear not. You can still aid animals in need, and just in time for the holidays: The answer? Sponsorship.
It was an ordinary summer day in Nanuet, New York. However, the normalcy of that particular day was altered for one compassionate stranger, who, as fate would have it, happened to be strolling by a Dumpster from which strange sounds emanated.
The noises, this person soon realized, were cries for help, muffled by layers of debris. Urgent digging through the rubble revealed the source of the pitiful yelps, and the site uncovered was both shocking and terrible. There, underneath the pile, languishing in a locked carrier cage was an emaciated cat. His eyes and orange and white-colored coat lacked vibrancy. He was malnourished and weak. And he had been left for dead.
Stories like this are painful to read, especially this time of year. And it's natural to want to help. But what if you can't house another pooch or are simply allergic to cat fur? In that case, fear not. You can still aid animals in need, and just in time for the holidays: The answer? Sponsorship.
"People are somewhat afraid of that labor of love, but doing these things can be less work than you think," explained Devera Lynn of North Shore Animal League of America (NSALA) in a discussion about her organization's sponsorship program.
NSALA is a New York-based, no-kill shelter with hundreds of animals in their care, and 36 needy animals are currently in the sponsorship program. A national organization, they have helped dozens of animals since the program's inception in 1997, including Moose, the creamsicle-colored cat found in a Dumpster. (The man who found him worked next to the NSALA office, and brought him in for immediate care.) That was nine summers ago, and now 12-years-old, Moose is much healthier, with a demeanor so positive no one would ever guess he was ever so ill --or so horrifically abused.
Lynn explained that many of NSALA's sponsored pets suffer from very expensive medical problems. And it's the poor health of these animals that leads certain owners to give them up, she said. (One pet, she asserted, was handed over to the organization after a single month of adoption.)
NSALA tends to a plethora of pets with special needs, and these needs are allocated into two groups. "They could either have physical or emotional needs. Animals suffer from everything from trauma, to stress, to depression, to renal disease," Lynn said.
Luckily, the benevolence of sponsors enables many special pets to receive medical care so they can live in peace and comfort. NSALA's information packet boasts several success stories. For instance, there's the heroic Scarlett ("She rescued all her kittens from a roaring fire, much to the surprise of firefighters") and three brave Chihuahuas ("they were born without forelegs, but don't feel disadvantaged and are now learning to walk on their hind legs!"), and Hurricane Charlie (who came from a brood of airlifted animals hit by the hardships of Hurricane Katrina), to name but a few.
And the best news is that sponsorship costs little more than fries and a coke. According to NSALA, sponsor costs start at only $5 per month. And as a sponsor, you receive material on your chosen pet (similar to sponsoring a child.) Items include a certificate with a color photo of the animal, quarterly updates on its health condition and a quarterly newsletter. And even as these sponsored animals are fostered or adopted, they continue to receive sponsor gifts for ongoing health care costs -- and you continue to receive updates of your furry friends. In a sense, it's an ongoing relationship of mutual beneficence -- you help a cat or dog, and they help to warm your heart.
So when the weather outside is frightful, and you're busy inside cherishing warm fireside moments with your pet and , spare a thought for the puppies and kittens without a home, food or love. Seek out a sponsorship program and help a pet in need. And remember that goodwill doesn't have to be seasonal, but can be a year-round habit instead.
For more information on sponsoring a pet visit http://www.nsalamerica.org/sponsor/.