Like many challenges facing communities, combating animal homelessness does not have a simple, one-step solution. Across the world, animal homelessness is a rampant problem, one that requires community buy-in and collaborative organizational efforts to eradicate. The Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby County is aware of the urgent needs facing families, dogs and cats in our community, and we’re developing and expanding our programming to tackle this problem head-on.
Why is reducing animal homelessness important?
We believe that working to reduce animal homelessness is an ethical thing to do – not just for animals, but for the communities we call home. Reducing animal homelessness directly impacts human well-being for several reasons. Homeless animals are more likely to carry diseases – which can infect domesticated animals and sometimes humans. Homeless animals are also more likely to demonstrate aggressive behaviors toward people and other animals, and are more likely to cause automobile or other accidents. Simply put, reducing animal homelessness reduces public health risks.
Additionally, reducing animal homelessness limits the number of animals that end up in shelter environments. While the Humane Society is a rehabilitative shelter that does not euthanize for time and space, there are shelters in communities across the nation that have no choice but to euthanize animals. By reducing the number of homeless animals in our community, we are saving animal lives.
What is the Humane Society doing to reduce animal homelessness in Memphis and Shelby County?
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for reducing animal homelessness. It takes unique and innovative strategies across organizations to make an impact on the problem. The Humane Society is proud of our recent and ongoing efforts in this space, and we’ll share a few of our programs with you.
We’re making animal care affordable and accessible.
We’re working diligently to make animal companionship affordable and accessible so animals that currently have homes can stay in them. The cost of veterinary care can be prohibitive for some families and can unfortunately lead to animal surrender. Even if owners don’t surrender their animals, pets that are not spayed or neutered can create unwanted litters of puppies and kittens, which add to the number of pets in our community that need forever homes. Surrenders and unanticipated litters create additional burdens on families and on the shelter system. We are grateful to have a full-time veterinarian and clinic staff at the Humane Society, and we are working diligently to increase access to quality and affordable veterinary care. Programs like our low-cost spay/neuter services and affordable vaccine clinics empower animal owners to take care of their animals long-term, keeping animals off the streets and out of shelters.
We’re training and preparing animals to find their perfect forever home.
When animals are in our shelter, our dedicated team of animal advocates and volunteers works tirelessly to prepare our dogs and cats for their forever homes. Part of the process is identifying potentially challenging behaviors and developing a unique training regimen to help the animal become ready for its forever home. We’ve found that trained animals have a smoother adjustment period and are less likely to be returned to the shelter after adoption. Investing in animal training is a great, inexpensive way to increase our adoption and retention rates.
We’re microchipping animals to quickly reconnect families and animals.
Microchipping animals is an important part of the animal care process. When a dog or cat is microchipped, they are much more likely to be returned to their family in the event that they go missing. Microchipping can be cost prohibitive, and is not mandatory at most veterinary offices. For these reasons, many pets are not microchipped. Even animals that are well-cared for can slip away from their homes, and all it takes is a snagged collar for the animal to become unidentifiable. Animals found without identification or a microchip often end up in shelter environments, sometimes miles away from their homes, making it challenging for their owners to locate them. All animals that are adopted through the Humane Society are microchipped, so if they ever go missing, they can be returned to their family quickly and safely.