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Responsibility vs Enthusiasm

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Easter weekend is upon us. Family, celebration, and enjoying the early seasonal weather is high on most “to-do” lists over the next 72 hours. It is also a period that finds rescue and animal welfare groups at a heightened state of alert with the influx of interest in adoption. Sure, we here at  Buddy’s Line love those adorable chicks, bunnies, and ducks too, but adopting any animal is a commitment and one that needs to be taken seriously.

With pets in more than 84 million homes in the United States, a figure noted by America Pet Products Association (APPA), pets are truly a part of the American family. Statistics do show a marked decline in the number of animals entering shelters across the country, however the number of animals euthanized each year continues to be staggering.

Rescue groups and their vast outreach teams have helped in this reduction of lost lives. The origin of today’s animal welfare groups dates to the late 1970’s when local, state, and national organizations were initially established. Originally founded for the primary purpose of education, welfare, and veterinary care, these groups have cultivated a national change in behavior towards the care and well-being of animals. Buddy’s Line would like to recognize the work of these rescue groups and all that they do.

Everyone can enjoy a dog, cat, rabbit, or guinea pig. But not everyone should own one. Responsibility vs enthusiasm is something that every would-be pet parent should consider long before visiting a shelter or group seeking adoption. Those on the front lines of rescue know all too well interest can flatline after the “welcome home” period, and it is the pet that ultimate suffers.

Secondhand Hounds is a rescue group located outside Minneapolis. Founded in 2009, the group has placed nearly 12,000 dogs and cats with new families. Most of their animals are saved directly from shelters where they are at risk of being euthanized. Foster families are critical to their endeavors. Mark Nelson, a friend of Buddy’s Line, is one of their fosters.

(L): Sharkey was an abused dog that wouldn't eat or respond in shelter.  He was placed with Mark Nelson as a foster and prospered.

Photo: Mark Nelson

Most of the dogs at Secondhand Hounds come from high-kill shelters from the south. Fostering enables Secondhand Hounds and other groups like them to help more animals by placing them with families while “forever” homes are sought. Nelson has been fostering for more than three years. “I started fostering because a friend is also the small dog coordinator at Secondhand Hounds. She was stressing out about dogs coming in, dogs being returned and other problems so I thought I would give it a try and see if it would work with me, my dog, and my schedule.”

OneGreenPlanet.org published a story last autumn noting how important fostering is and how it helps animals in crisis. “Fostering helps prepare animals for adoption by giving them a chance to live in a home where they can fully express their personality, work to overcome fears, or recover from trauma.”

“The biggest issue with fostering is never knowing how the animals will react,” notes Nelson. “You don't always know the history of the dog, their training, if any.” If you are considering fostering, Nelson suggests, “to make sure everyone in your family is on the same page and willing to put up with the possible problems of a new dog or cat. Make sure your resident animals can handle another animal, and identify if any changes need to take place due to resource guarding or other potential problems.”

Fostering is rewarding and can be a great way for potential pet parents to experience daily pet responsibility. Rescue groups are always looking for caring individuals and families to open their homes to pets in need. Duration can vary from a few days to many months. Nelson comments, “every animal you take in opens a space in a shelter for another animal in need.” Ultimately when a home is found, the pet’s new life begins and another life is saved.

Secondhand Hounds hold adoption events almost every week. Most events are held at pet stores though the group has also held events at car dealerships, bars, and breweries. They have special events and fundraisers at casinos, tattoo studios, art galleries, parades, and more. St. Paul Saints baseball team features an adoptable dog of the game; the dog is announced and brought out on the field between innings.

Secondhand Hounds accepts donations. Visit them on Facebook.

Buddy’s Line would like to thank Mark Nelson and all those at Secondhand Hounds.

(R): Genesis is currently in foster with Mark Nelson. She was a stray that came into Secondhand Hounds emancipated and covered in mange.

Photo: Mark Nelson