The Animal Foundation

Dusty of Las Vegas– Limited Time Offer!

One rainy Saturday night last month I received a text that turned my blood to ice. A beloved family pet that was supposed to be shipped over 700 miles to her new home had instead been dumped off at the local shelter, and was days from being euthanized.

Her owner had to go ahead of her to their new hometown and send for her later. The person responsible for coordinating her transport instead dropped Ginger off anonymously at the shelter without telling anyone. Ginger’s microchip contained a phone number that had changed with the move, so they couldn’t reach her human. Thankfully a friend learned of the situation before it was too late.

We lit up the phones and inboxes in Las Vegas, where Ginger was being cared for at The Animal Foundation. Despite the hour, an employee miraculously answered the phone just before leaving for the night. Once the circumstances were explained, we learned that the Foundation would work with us to get Ginger home, but we had to abide by a very strict timeframe– 48 hours.

This was an intensely stressful experience, as I have strong feelings about adoptable animals being euthanized. Putting Ginger down, to me, would be like murdering a family member. I do not equate animals with humans, but I do believe that humans have a divinely mandated responsibility to care for the fuzzy ones among us.

Ginger’s owner got in the car and drove 1500 miles roundtrip to claim her. We established proof of ownership and squared away the business end of things before he arrived. Ginger was overjoyed at seeing her “dad” again, and the shelter lavished her with gifts for the journey home. Ginger talked about the reunion for about three straight hours in the car before settling down.

Ginger, a black and tan shepherd mix, had a rough start in life. A friend had obtained her from a homeless man when she was far too tiny to be away from her mother. She was starving and sick. Her bond with her owner may be especially strong because of these circumstances. Ginger matured into a loyal and loving dog who enjoys other dogs and cats.

In her new home, she’s established herself as team leader of just such a mixed household, and enjoys having the neighbor dogs over to play as well. Thanks to the cooperation of the staff at The Animal Foundation, Ginger was one of the rare cases that make it out of the shelter alive.

The animal shelter situation in Las Vegas is mindboggling. Their website speaks to the horrors they are up against, and how hard they work to save animals. More than 15 animals an hour arrive at The Animal Foundation, which is nearly 1000 per week. Overall they take in more than 50,000 lost or unwanted pets a year. That’s 5000 more pets than New York City took in, and New York City has four times the population of Las Vegas.

In 2009, they reunited 4000 animals with their owners, transferred 1600 pets to other rescue groups, and found homes for 10,000 pets. While every digit of these statistics is a life saved and a success, do the math. Most of the animals coming in here never make it out despite their best efforts.

I’ve been perusing the adoptable animals on their website, and marvel over the sheer cuteness and uniqueness of every little face. It brings tears to my eyes to think that I am looking at loving, talented creatures bursting with personality that may soon be dead because of overcrowding.

This problem, this mass slaughter of intelligent companions, is preventable. The Animal Foundation is picking up the pieces of the wreckage caused by people who don’t spay and neuter their pets, as well as those who abandon them. Pets do get lost, and some people lose the means to afford taking care of their pets, so I’m not criticizing that.

But for us humans to allow this situation to exist is reprehensible. Just a few lazy people is all it takes to guarantee scores of future generations of cats, dogs, and other pets. I’ve also known of people that leave their pets behind when they move.

Similarly, I question the logic when I hear people talking about letting their cat have just one litter before she’s spayed so their kids will experience the miracle of birth. They can’t guarantee proper homes for those kittens. It also bothers me to see people casually breeding pets for profit, or getting bored with their pets and cycling through them as if they’re mere objects.

Why do we create more lives when there are literally millions of domestic animals that are homeless and neglected? When I see ferrets at pet stores, for example, I marvel that breeders are allowed to sell them when I know 80 wild and crazy personalities waiting to be adopted at the local ferret shelter. My personal favorite was found wandering around outside by himself when rescued.

Even worse, our homeless animal problem is so out of control that some pets, left alone in the outdoors, have reverted to a pack mentality. Their instincts have taken over and they roam urban areas more as wolves than dogs. There are an estimated 60 million homeless cats in the United States, with colonies of feral cats, and starving abandoned cats, almost everywhere.

Please consider giving to an organization like The Animal Foundation, or your local shelter, that is standing in the gap to save as many pets as possible. I have a handful of organizations in the Puget Sound area listed on the sidebar. You can donate your time, money, needed supplies, or help them with marketing. There is always a way to help.

I want to personally thank Shelby and the staff at The Animal Foundation in Las Vegas for working with my family to bring Ginger home. This situation was a nightmare, but they helped create a happy ending in spite of their schedule and regulations.

If only the vast majority of fellow fuzzy ones who were there with Ginger were as fortunate. Instead, they were sent back to their Maker because there doesn’t appear to be enough of us to care to keep them alive.

The Animal Foundation:

The Animal Foundation’s Facebook page:!/group.php?gid=117140618308124&v=info


Nobody can fully understand the meaning of love unless he’s owned a dog. He can show you more honest affection with a flick of his tail than a man can gather through a lifetime of handshakes. -Gene Hill

©2010 H. Hiatt/ All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/

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