Paws for a Cause: How the community can help animals in need


Photo by: Lucy Cave

AJ is a gentle German shepherd awaits a new home at the CARE shelter.

STORY BY: Lucy Cave
Copy Editor
Every day, there are animals who are living their lives without homes. Some wander the streets and others are trapped by animal control. People in the community are doing their best to make sure these homeless animals are cared for and find a forever home.
Animal rescues are an important part of communities that are combating animal cruelty. Castaway Animals Rescue Effort is one of these shelters. They focus on sheltering dogs and cats.
“We rescue all our animals from animal control,” Adoption Counselor Travis Cox said. “The animals that are going to be definitely put down; we’ll go in and we’ll pull whatever we can pull to make sure that animal is not going to be senselessly due to space.”
The employees and volunteers at the shelter want to make sure that the animals are also living happy lives. CARE is mostly volunteer based. People can start volunteering with a guardian at 12 and independently at 18. Volunteers groom the animals, take them for walks and play with them.
They work towards setting up the animals for their next home, and they make sure the animals are prepared for this.
“Any of our animals that come in, we start by working on a potty training system with them and any type of behavioral modifications they need,” Cox said. “If they have more emotional or training needs that we can’t provide up here, we have a training facility at the sanctuary for animals that need extra help. The staff out there is thoroughly trained on animal behaviors and can help them get ready for their forever home.”
As well as volunteering for animal shelters like this, the community can help by taking care of their own animals as well. CARE strongly supports spaying and neutering because one of the biggest causes of the influx of unwanted animals the many litters an animal can have when a pet owner is irresponsible and doesn’t get their animal fixed.
“The big thing is to get their animals spayed and neutered so we are not having all these liters of unwanted animals that we now have to find homes for, and God forbid they are being killed because someone didn’t take the time to get their animals fixed,” Cox said.
At many animal shelters, there are also opportunities for people to foster animals before that animal is adopted into its permanent home. English teacher Kimberly Petiford works with the shelter Rescue One and fosters dogs. She has been fostering dogs for a year now and has fostered 11 different dogs while also keeping several dogs temporarily.
“I’ve always been a dog lover, so now that I own my own home and am able, I help out whenever and however I can,” Petiford said. “I truly believe that animals deserve our help and our love due to their unconditional love for us.”
It’s important for the community to be involved in the local shelters because animal cruelty is a real problem in the area.
“As community members, it’s important to know what’s going on in your area and how it can impact life,” Petiford said. “This area is especially bad for unhealthy dog breeding and, unfortunately, dog fighting. Rescue One and many other organizations around the area try to work to stop these things.”
A big motto that shelters live by is “adopt, don’t shop.” This is a slogan that promotes adopting pets from shelters, rather than buying them from pet stores. This is due to the unethical practices of pet stores, where they don’t have regard for their animals living conditions, and they breed their animals often.
“The Canine Journal” states that, “Many of the puppies sold in pet stores or online originate from puppy mills, commercial dog-breeding facilities that focus on increasing profit with little regard for the health and welfare of the animals. Dogs live in filthy conditions without adequate food, water or veterinary care. Female dogs are also bred at every opportunity with little to no recovery time between litters. Inbreeding is a huge problem.”
Junior Jasmine LeJeune also supports this slogan, and adopted it in the past.
“We got [my chihuahua] Ollie from the Ozark Veterinary Clinic,” LeJeune said. “He had ear mites, and he was about four days away from being euthanized the day my mom called. We wanted a buddy, male, for Little Girl, our other female chihuahua. We went to look at him and decided he’d be a good fit for her. Ollie got his second life with us!”
Vet offices often have bulletin boards with pets that need new homes or pets that were found. There are also animals always needing help at shelters.
“I think it’s important to rescue animals because not only do you save a life, but you get a loyal companion in return,” LeJeune said. “Rescuing Ollie was one of the greatest decisions my family made, and he’s now my best friend. If you have the opportunity, adoption has so many benefits.”