They need your help, not your money

Published 6:43 pm Saturday, March 11, 2017

The cover of our Outlook section today features a subject that is near and dear to my heart.

The plight of unwanted and mistreated animals is nothing short of a tragedy in the southeastern United States. Yes, animals have a more difficult time here than in other parts of our country. That’s simply a fact, and it’s not going to get better until we own that.

Some areas of the nation have worked to stem the uncontrolled breeding of dogs and cats and have enacted regulations, like permitting and licensing of dogs and cats, which have cut down on the number of stray, feral or free-roaming dogs and cats. Many unwanted dogs from the southeastern U.S. are sent to northern states that have worked for years to reduce the population of stray animals.

Further, other states have enacted legislation like that which the Mississippi legislature refused to pass this session, which would have made animal abuse a felony. Mississippi is one of only three states in the nation in which first offense animal abuse isn’t a felony. Animal abuse laws in Mississippi are so weak, they provide no deterrence, no justice. And, we all know that those who abuse animals routinely move on to violence against humans.

Vicksburg and Warren County are home to an unusually high number of dogs and cats that are not spayed or neutered. When it comes to puppies and kittens, the miracle of birth is more like a nightmare. The suffering and pain the majority of these dogs and cats endure in their lifetime is sickening and preventable, if only we would help them.

Passionate for Rescues, a relatively young group whose intent is to make better the lives of dogs and cats who wind up in our city’s pound, is begging for your help.

Rarely will you come across a group that isn’t asking for your money. All this group wants from you is for you to go to the pound and walk a dog or spend some time playing with a cat. And that’s about it.

The economic reality of operating an animal shelter in any municipality with limited and dwindling tax dollars doesn’t leave much for luxuries. Without the help of Passionate for Rescues, the dogs in the city pound would spend all of their time in a small cell.

The Vicksburg Animal Shelter is very much a kill shelter. Come Monday morning, because of limited space at the pound, the dogs and cats that have been there the longest will be euthanized. Healthy, sweet, loving, innocent animals will be put down simply because the pound has no room for them and no one wants them.

If there is a bright spot in this, it’s that those dogs and cats that will die tomorrow at least for a little while felt love from a human being in the form of one of the handful of Passionate for Rescues volunteers. Volunteers are at the pound every day that weather will allow, getting those dogs out of their cells and walking them and letting them spend time outside. They speak to them kindly, cuddle with them, love on them. Perhaps for the first time in their lives, they feel love from a human being.

Won’t you help by volunteering some time each week at the city pound, walking a dog or playing with a cat or kitten? If for only a short time, you could help these innocent animals feel love, kindness and happiness.

Maybe your church or civic group needs a project. Maybe you just need some exercise. Walking a dog would help you both.

Darlene Hughes, who started Passionate for Rescues, says it takes a village, and she’s right. Together, we can make lives better for animals at our city pound. And maybe we can make lives better for all of our animals in the process.

The life you rescue in doing so may just be your own.

For information on how you can volunteer at the Vicksburg Animal Shelter, please see the story on the front page of the Outlook section in today’s newspaper. Or, visit the Passionate for Rescues Facebook page. Or, call me. I’ll get you in touch with someone from the Passionate for Rescues group.
Jan Griffey is editor of The Vicksburg Post. You may reach her at jan.griffey@vicksburgpost.com.