Portland animal shelters need every bit of help available
In 2008, Portland became the buzz of the web when Portland news media reported that a pit-bull had boarded a city bus without anyone accompanying him and went for a ride. On the web, Portland became known as a pet-friendly city because the bus driven had allowed the dog to ride the bus.
The truth, however, is that Portland is no more pet-friendly than any other major city in the United States. Dogs, cats, rabbits, snakes, horses and any number of other animals are abandoned in their thousands every year in the city and wider Multnomah County. Since the downturn, with many families facing their own budget crises, the rate of animal abandonment has increased.
Pet owners either take their animals, usually dogs or cats, into rural land outside the city and leave them there, thinking that they’ll be able to instinctually fend for themselves, or leave them somewhere in Portland thinking that the millions of people who live here will provide enough care for them to survive by offering bits of food here and there and maybe even adoption.
But, the truth of the matter is that domesticated animals have only primitive instincts, their natural ability to survive ‘in the wild’ has been stripped away by centuries of domestication and they are no better off on the city streets or in country field than a young child.
In many cases an abandoned dog will wait in the area in which it was left. Its domestic instincts will tell it to wait for an owner that is never going to return. In other cases the animal will set out in search of its home and get run over, attacked by other dogs or suffer some other injury which leads ultimately to a death that is sometimes extremely painful.
Just like abandoning a child is illegal in Portland, it is also against animal cruelty laws to abandon your pet. But, enforcing such a law is both difficult and time consuming for police precincts that are already facing a lack of resources. However, the penalty, according to Portland news media reports on the issue, is a $2,500 fine as animal abandonment is a Class B Misdemeanor in Portland.
Animals that are handed over to groups like the Oregon Humane Society or the Multnomah County Animal Services have a better outlook for survival and quality of life than those animals that are abandoned to be run over, starve, die from injuries or join the thousands of stay animals in the city.
David Lytle, Oregon Humane Society’s public affairs spokesman, told Portland news media in 2008 that 99% of the dogs brought to them were eventually adopted.
Those that aren’t adopted will eventually be euthanized.
There are many animal shelters in Portland that pick up the slack left by animal owners that abandon their pets. Organisations such as the Oregon Humane Society of Portland and Multnomah County Animal Services are joined by groups such as the Pixie Project, the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland and many others.
These shelters run on donations and public funding, which is all too often less than what they need in terms of operating costs and facility requirements.
Kelly Clarke, a volunteer at The Pixie Project, recently appealed to Portland residents to look around their homes and businesses and see what items that had that could be donated as an in-kind donation.
“Some people don’t have cash to donate but they have hundreds of other items in their homes that are needed,” Clarke told Portland news media.
Aside from money, animal shelters welcome donations of a range of items from cleaning products and blankets and towels to building supplies such as mesh-wiring, which can be used to create outdoor dug runs.
The Pixie Project is a member of The Giving Effect.com (www.thegivingeffect.com), a website set up to act as a kind of national network of animal shelters around the country. It has over 250 shelters as members already and provides direct access to animal shelters in your local area so that you can find out what their needs are and see if you can help.
Famous statesmen from Winston Churchill to Nelson Mandela have employed the old saying that a society is ultimately judged by how it treats its weakest members. Abandoned animals are among the most vulnerable members of Portland’s society and deserve our help.
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