An Ounce of Prevention
If you look at any animal shelter or rescue group right now, you’ll see how many animals are looking for new homes. It can feel overwhelming. But there is a way to ease the strain on shelters and rescues: prevention.
Many of us have heard the phrase, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," by Benjamin Franklin. This saying could not be more true in regards to the overflowing shelters and rescue groups.
Prevention comes in several forms: access to affordable preventive veterinary care and behavior and training services; resources to trap-neuter-return for community cats; safety net programs to help people get through hard times; and fostering partnerships with other organizations, including those that primarily assist people. Pet Community Center works to prevent animals from entering the shelter/rescue system and to keep pets with their loving families.
Access to Veterinary Care
Access to affordable veterinary care is essential to keeping animals out of the shelters, especially spay/neuter, vaccines, and parasite prevention. Spay/neuter prevents accidental litters and certain health risks like uterine infections and breast cancer in females and testicular cancer in males. Vaccines and parasite prevention protect animals against serious and even fatal diseases like rabies, heartworm disease, parvovirus, feline leukemia, and much more.
Since "medical expenses" is one of the most commonly cited reasons for owner surrenders, we can prevent pets from entering shelters and rescue groups by providing affordable and accessible veterinary care to all.
Training and Behavior Services
One of the other most cited reasons for owner surrenders is "behavior." If a pet's behavior is problematic, it can be challenging (and even expensive) to figure out how to modify that behavior. Learning basic manners can help puppies grow into well-mannered dogs, minimizing or eliminating unpleasant behaviors like jumping on people or chewing furniture. This doesn’t just apply to puppies. Basic manners and continued training can help older dogs as well.
Agape Animal Rescue & Training Center works to combat owner surrenders due to behavior, as well as increase the quality of life and adoptability of dogs awaiting adoption through their Community Canine Coaching Program.
Through our partnership with Agape, our Pets for Life clients can participate in their training program for free. This allows many pet owners to access high-quality training that they previously could not. Our partnership helps dogs struggling with behavioral issues to live happier lives and stay out of the shelters.
Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) of Community Cats
A community cat is a free-roaming cat who may be friendly or feral (unsocialized) and is living outdoors and thriving. While removal attempts may temporarily reduce the number of cats in an area, unsterilized survivors will continue to breed and other cats will move into the available territory. Year after year, cats will be killed, but the population will never be controlled.
Trapping, neutering, and returning (TNR) community cats humanely stops population growth, prevents new cats from moving in, and keeps feral cats out of the shelters where they are unlikely to be successfully adopted. Pet Community Center's Community Cat Program offers free and low-cost TNR services and has a partnership with Metro Animal Care and Control that diverts community cats from the shelter.
Safety Net Programs
Sometimes pet owners face personal hardships and barriers, financial or other, that make keeping a pet a challenge. Access to pet food and other essential pet supplies can make the difference between a pet staying in their loving home or going to a shelter.
Under the mentorship of The Humane Society of the United States, Pet Community Center’s Pets for Life program serves North and East Nashville neighborhoods with high rates of poverty and limited access to pet services and resources. We use long-term, door-to-door outreach to build trust and connect with people and their pets and then provide affordable and accessible veterinary care and supplies.
Other life challenges can happen when a family has to move due to an emergency or disaster, like a tornado or house fire. This can mean a pet deposit on top of other unexpected expenses if they can find a pet-friendly home or temporary housing. Pet deposit funds help families to keep their pets during an already difficult time. Providing a pet deposit for a family prevents the trauma of surrendering a pet and keeps that pet out of the shelter system.
Partnerships Between Organizations
Environmental challenges can also cause pets to enter shelters. For example, if someone is unable repair their broken fence, their dog may escape their yard and get lost. In this case, a partnership with an organization that builds fences would be a great resource.
Additionally, ensuring the dog has a microchip and identification can help get them home quickly. Pet Community Center and Friends of MACC have partnered to provide microchips to pets at no cost to their owners. Since last November, we have microchipped 443 pets through the program.
Pet Community Center’s partnerships with organizations whose primary goal is to help people also keep pets out of the shelter system. For example, our partnership with the YWCA provides veterinary care to pets of domestic violence victims.
The more ways we can prevent animals from entering the shelter/rescue system, the more resources will be available to those organizations to help the animals in their care. It’s truly a win-win for the entire animal welfare community when we prioritize prevention. With your help, every ounce of prevention through programs at Pet Community Center will be worth a pound of cure.