During the fires last summer, many people stepped forward to take care of the pets of total strangers. Many volunteers fed, exercised and visited with dogs from the fire areas that were being housed at the Payson off-leash dog park. Others cared for cats. The pet owners were, on the whole, very grateful for this outpouring of help. It gave them the freedom to deal with all the problems associated with the fear and frustration of the fire knowing that their pets were OK.
Recently, I received a call from Jean at the Time Out Shelter. Women and children, and sometimes men, who need to leave their homes due to a violent domestic situation often have a pet. Because of health codes, the shelter cannot take in these pets.
Many who are in need of this protective service have no money to pay for boarding. This adds emotional strain to an already difficult situation.
After talking with Jean, I realized there are many circumstances that make a person in need of this kind of help. A sudden medical emergency or other family crisis throws the whole family into turmoil. Worrying about the family pet adds to the crisis. Normally these periods of need are short in duration. Some can go on for quite a while.
Are there not people in the Rim country who would be willing to care for the pets of people in need every once in a while? What if we were to form a volunteer pet care program? We would develop a list of volunteers who would bring pets into their homes. These volunteers would have to have a safe environment for them.
A fenced yard should be a prerequisite. A secure, good-sized outdoor kennel would be perfect. These dogs, cats and other pets would be accustomed to a variety of lifestyles.
Some might normally sleep on the bed and others might live outside. All pets taken in to volunteer homes would be required to have all their shots and would be neutered. That is only fair.
How could this all be set up? People would volunteer to be on the list. They would agree to take a dog or a cat or maybe more than one pet.
Is there someone out there who would volunteer to coordinate this project?
Give this some thought and contact me with your ideas.
And while on the subject of helping, there are a number of dogs in the area dedicated to helping people with special needs. I would like to interview some of these people. Please help me locate them.
There is a particular white shepherd who is the assistant to a woman in a wheelchair.
If you know of a working dog or would like to help with this volunteer pet-care program, please e-mail me or call me at (928) 476-2239. We can make a difference.
In the meantime, the weather is beautiful. Take your dog for a hike, or at least a walk around the block. Visit the dog park. Spend 10 minutes with your dog brushing him and just giving him some special attention. He will be so very grateful.
Our dog wants to be our best friend. He looks to us for direction, training and love.
Christy Wrather is a columnist for the Payson Roundup. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by snail-mail at HC1 Box 210, Strawberry, AZ 85544.