Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I'm Going to the Cats and Dogs...

Every Saturday morning for years I’ve stumbled out of bed extra early, and fed my resident four-footers who are happy to see me finally up and about. (It’s a well known fact in pet-friendly households that a hungry cat thinks a minute is a week. Go without food at the cat-appropriate time, and starvation can’t be far behind, she fears. The longer she waits, the more desperate the wait—and the meowing—becomes.)

Hungry KittenAnyway, after satisfying my furry foursome with scratches, pets and finally food, I drive the trusty, rusty van to the company warehouse. At the warehouse I load up with assorted cages, and I hit the road.

Then the adventure begins.

It’s like this every Saturday. You see, I’m a tiny cog in an Underground Railroad for abandoned animals. I’m a Transporter. I rescue animals that would have been Put To Sleep (or PTS, as we euphemistically call it) that very evening, and I drive them to safety.

My ultimate driving destination can be as far away as 5 hours one-way, or as near as 2. I never know who I’m picking up, but I know that without my efforts, the “fur persons” at my destination would not have made it through the weekend. For these beautiful dogs and cats (and guinea pigs, rabbits, pot bellied pigs and hamsters, too) are on the unfortunately hideously long list of “unwanted” animals.

I’ve rescued Momma dogs and cats that gave birth to a new litter in the back of my van, enroute to their safe haven…I’ve rescued pedigreed dogs that have been abandoned because their families can no longer afford to feed them in this economy…I’ve rescued beagles and hounds expendable after the hunting season…and beloved dogs that were the only thing a family was able to save out of their home when it burned to the ground.

Rescued AnimalsI’ve saved 150 pound Mastiffs and one pound kittens. We’ve even saved a tarantula, but that’s another story.

On a typical weekend, our group of volunteers rescues 100 animals, with one transporter turning the passengers over to another transporter in Underground Railroad-like “legs” until the animals are ultimately delivered to their safe havens.

Those 100 animals—a mere drop in the bucket of need—require the services of 50 people each Saturday. Most of us would prefer to do nothing else, as the emotional rewards are enormous.

For the most part, these animals know they’ve been saved and they are uniformly appreciative. For every one of those animals has a new, loving home or safe shelter to go to. Guaranteed. That’s the promise we make to them. And to ourselves.

I can’t tell you how many kitty purrs or doggie kisses I’ve had. How many times I’ve fallen in love. And how many times my heart has been broken.

But why am I telling you how I spend my spare time?

Because the USPS has just launched a set of 10 stamps honoring abandoned pets and urging people to adopt a shelter pet.

Stand  out in the crowd.Stand  out in the crowd.Stand  out in the crowd.

The Save a Stray stamps have their own beauty. The dignity of the animals shown—five cats and five dogs—says it all. These guys need a home; they deserve a chance.

So now I’m preaching at you.

When you’re ready for a pet, please go to your local pound. Find your new best friend there, and take him home. Give him love, warmth, food, care. He will give you back love and companionship a thousand fold. He will never forget you saved his life.

Help spread the word. Use the Save a Stray stamps on your mail.

Maybe there will be fewer animals needing a ride next Saturday.

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