November is shelter awareness month
To salute the men and women committed to helping animals and preventing cruelty at America’s estimated 6,000 public and private shelters, November was declared National Animal Shelter Appreciation Month.
The two shelters at the South Shore, tax-supported El Dorado County Animal Control, and donation-supported Lake Tahoe Humane Society and S.P.C.A., will host an open house at their two locations in Meyers from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 13. Everyone is invited to visit all the abandoned pets waiting for loving, responsible homes and to enjoy cider and people biscuits. For more information call (530) 577-4521.
Animal sheltering was originated in 1824 in London, England, at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. In 1866, the American version, the A.S.P.C.A, was established as a privately funded law enforcement organization to protect working horses on the street of New York. By 1877, privately funded shelters were set up by the American Humane Association to protect both children and animals. During the 1950s, along with urbanization, came local government funded control agencies, established to impound stray and vicious animals for public health and safety. In the meantime, Federal programs were established for protecting and sheltering children. Thereafter, private humane societies and S.P.C.A.’s concentrated on education to promote nonviolence, along with animal sheltering.
The number of unwanted pets remains so great, and resources so small, that some shelters must euthanize surplus animals 24 hours a day. It is estimated that eight million pets are killed each year. This number does not include strays who die on streets or those uncounted who are elsewhere — probably another 10 million abandoned pets.
The field has been professionalized with various certification for animal welfare workers, the most recent being for humane educators and an emerging specialty for shelter veterinarians. Due to the nature of the work, the average shelter employee career is 2.5 years or less. In South Lake Tahoe the private humane society supports the public agency by relieving overcrowding to keep local euthanasia to a minimum. However, pet overpopulation is still a crisis, especially for cats.
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