We keep hearing about the recession when what we are really facing is a “depression.” A sad by-product of the financial crisis is the plight of “man’s best friend.” Thousands of dogs are being dropped at shelters and with rescue organizations throughout the Southland, and thousands more are sadly being stripped of their IDs (the owners do not want them returned) and left to fend for themselves on the streets and in the mountains, many after a lifetime of pampering, with no idea whatsoever of how to survive. This sort of “ending” for “man’s best friend” is tragic. Those family pets that do wind up at shelters may be no better off. Many shelters cannot handle the overflow and are destroying family pets at an alarming rate. Four million healthy animals are put to sleep annually already.
We are asking anyone who can afford to take in an animal to visit his or her local shelter and adopt one. There are many beautiful and loving animals in all breeds, all ages, all shapes and sizes. If you prefer a particular breed and don’t find one at a shelter, Google the breed by name and search for a local rescue group in Los Angeles.
As a medical doctor, I thought I might point out to those who need additional incentive to open their homes and their hearts to a living being who so desperately needs your help. Adopting an animal has been increasingly shown to save lives and to reduce the incidence of many medical conditions including hypertension and heart disease. Walking has been cited in multiple studies as the best exercise for the 40-year-old-plus population. The companionship itself has been shown to reduce depression and loneliness. Cardiomegaly means an enlarged heart, one that is diseased from many causes including age and stress. But those of us who spend countless hours trying to aid abused or just plain abandoned pets like to think of large hearts another way entirely. We hope that those of you who are able to do so will consider opening your homes and your hearts to a loving dog that needs you now.
Volunteer at German Shepherd Rescue