Rescuing an animal is undoubtedly a noble, commendable and fulfilling act, but it also comes with its own set of responsibilities. As an animal welfare organisation, we at Friendicoes are always grateful to those who lend a helping hand. However, in order to avoid doing more unintentional damage than good, there are some things to keep in mind when you, as an individual, are playing the role of an animal rescuer.
Seeing animals in distress, hungry, injured or alone on the streets is understandably unbearable for most. It’s nearly impossible to simply walk away without doing what you can to help. But instead of being driven solely by that emotion, it’s imperative to objectively assess the situation at hand and make a judgement call that is best for the animal in question rather than our conscience.
Most shelters like ours are functioning beyond capacity, and we are forced to prioritise cases on an urgent basis. Unfortunately, that sometimes means that we don’t always have the bandwidth to attend to new cases that people might bring to us. Here’s how you can help if you come across a dog or a cat in need in your neighbourhood:
Look around for the mother or siblings
Suppose you come across a group of kittens or puppies, or even an individual kitten or puppy; the first thing you should do is determine whether their mother is in the vicinity or not. If she is, the best thing you can do for them in the moment is to provide some food and water and allow them to remain where you found them – they have the greatest chances of survival together, especially if they are still reliant on their mother’s milk.
Check if they require immediate medical assistance
Of course, if any of them are injured and need immediate medical assistance, you are right to contact shelters like Friendicoes for help.
Avoid taking them home unless you can provide permanent homes
If perhaps the mother is nowhere to be found – while it may be hard to resist, and while the idea of leaving them on the street might be hard to come to terms with, it’s essential to understand that disrupting their lives without a long-term rehabilitation plan is doing more harm than good. In cases like this, you can inform a local shelter for guidance.
If you do foster them, make sure you are willing to go the extra mile
If you decide to foster the kitten/puppies in case the mother is not around, be prepared to have a plan in mind for their eventual adoption and see the process through. Unless you know, you can find each of them good, loving homes and are ready to be wholly accountable for their welfare; it’s unfair to pluck them out of their surroundings only to return them in a few days.
Spay/neuter and vaccinations become your responsibility
Suppose you have decided to foster these puppies or kittens and are spreading the word about their adoption through social media and word of mouth. In that case, it also becomes your responsibility to ensure they are given their initial vaccinations and eventually spayed/neutered. If they are too young to be sterilised, you must inform the adopters of the importance of the procedure when the time comes, and it would fall on you to check in with them again.
While it may sound harsh, it is, unfortunately, the reality we live in – shelters are stretched too thin and are often forced to choose their battles. By understanding your responsibility to the animals and when it is right to step in, we can ensure that mothers are not unfairly separated from their young while orphaned, defenceless animals are given a chance at a better life.
Becoming a volunteer
If you are truly passionate about this cause, Friendicoes is always looking for committed volunteers. From helping at our shelters or coming on board as a foster to supporting our adoption programs and fundraising initiatives, we could use your invaluable help in many ways! Click here to learn more about it.