Become an Animal Angel in Your Neighborhood

The holidays inspire us to give in new ways. Becoming an animal angel is a gift you can give all year.

Animal lovers or not, we've all seen pets right in our own neighborhood that are injured and abandoned, and heard the wailings of hungry and lost or left behind pets. For those who love animals, these are difficult things to ignore. If you're looking for something special this time of year that you could do for these creatures, you could become an "animal angel" right in your neighborhood.

It's easy to imagine how distressed you would be if one of your pets became lost or injured while you were at work or away on vacation. Many people, are ill-equipped to deal with an animal emergency at a moment's notice, but with calmness and caring and a little preparation, anyone with a big heart and a love for animals can become a guardian angel to critters. You can be the difference between life and death for an animal. You may be an animal's only hope for finding their family or being adopted into a new family.

Neighborhood Watch

Make "Being on the lookout for animals who need help" a habit. This is one of the easiest and best ways to spot animals in need sooner. Most people assume that someone else will take care of the problem. Often an injured or lost animal is left alone and doesn't get the help it needs soon enough. If you make it a point to help an animal in need the moment you realize it needs help, this can greatly reduce the long term damage from an injury, or even save the animal's life. When animals roam, whether lost or abandoned, they face extreme risks. Removing animals from dangerous situations can literally save their lives. "Helping a wandering critter prevents injury or death from traffic, starvation, cruelty, disease, attacks from other animals, and other dangerous and inhumane conditions. If you find a pet that seems lost, the sooner you attempt to locate it's owner, the greater the chance of reuniting the pet with it's family; the longer an animal is lost, the greater the chance a family may feel hopeless at finding it and abandon it's attempts to recover the animal. "Bringing the animal to safety is the kindest thing you can do. Recruit friends and neighbors to be angels too! The more people aware and watching for animals in need of help, the faster these animals will get help.

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Ready for Anything

Unlike humans, companion animals can't dial 911 or tell their family where they are. They are at the mercy of the people whom they meet, and, as domesticated creatures, they are almost entirely dependent on human compassion. Many people want to help, but are apprehensive or unsure of what to do. However, a little bit of education and preparation can turn a passive animal lover into an active one.

Yet, no matter how confident a person feels about helping an animal in need, it's also important to remember that approaching an unknown animal can be dangerous. People should always be cautious and use good common sense. If you don't feel comfortable handling an animal who may be unfriendly or fearful, call animal control or your local shelter and wait with the animal or at least keep track of it, until help arrives.

For more specific information on what steps to take once an at-risk animal has been identified, check out The Humane Society of the United States' comprehensive guide, What To Do When You Find a Stray Dog or Cat . The HSUS also recommends that you prepare an emergency animal kit for your home and/or vehicle. That way, whether an animal is on the side of the highway or on your front porch, you'll be prepared.

An Emergency Animal Kit should include:

  • Phone numbers and addresses of 24-hour veterinary clinics, 24-hour animal shelters and animal control agencies (find local information in your phone book or go to www.Pets911.com and enter your zip code.)
  • Cat carrier, pillowcase or cardboard box
  • Adjustable 6-foot slip lead
  • Bottled water
  • Strong-smelling foods (canned tuna, dried liver, etc.)
  • Treats
  • Food and water dishes
  • Animal first aid kit (available online through CPR Savers & First Aid Supply.)
  • Flares
  • A Blanket or towels
  • Animal first aid book (Pet First Aid, authored by The HSUS and the American Red Cross, is available online.)

There are thousands of animals who need help every day. Whatever their story, these animals are alone in a dangerous world—and it's up to animal lovers to act on their behalf.

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