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Thursday, April 6, 2017

April is an Excellent Time to Help Animals in Need

This post by Gayle M. Irwin

The month of April is special to me, both as an advocate for animals and as a staff member of a non-profit organization. April is noted as Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month and as Volunteer Appreciation Month, therefore, both recognitions are important to me.

Animal Cruelty Awareness
I have been an advocate for animals nearly all my life. I’ve worked at animal shelters and volunteered for pet rescue organizations, something I still do. I support several local, regional, and national animal welfare groups, including the Casper Humane Society, Black Dog Animal Rescue, Best Friends Animal Society, and American Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). I transport and have done home visits for rescue groups in my region, including English Springer Spaniel Rescue, Big Dogs Huge Paws, and MidAmerica Boston Terrier Rescue. Pets are my passion, and I help these groups in various ways, including education about animal cruelty.

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is an educational campaign sponsored by the ASPCA and other animal welfare groups. From dog fighting and puppy mills to acts of violence and neglect, the ASPCA, Humane Society of the United States, and other animal organizations across the country bring about awareness to the various issues that harm animals. Experts contend that animal abuse often escalates to violence against people, including domestic violence, homicide, and mass murder. Therefore, combating animal cruelty not only saves animal lives but can also help people affected, who would be affected, by violence.

According to the ASPCA, every 60 seconds an animal is abused. Animal cruelty doesn’t just happen “elsewhere.” Recently cases in my state and region have made headlines in community and national media. From a dog named Diamond in South Carolina to a cat named Sage in Utah, animal abuse, sadly, is alive and well, and happening all around us.

Here are five ways you can help combat cruelty to animals:
  1. Don’t buy pets from a pet store and encourage people you know to also not purchase from pet stores. Many animals sold at stores come from puppy mills, which keep dogs, cats, and other companion animals in horrid, unsafe, and unhealthy conditions. Boycott buying – adopt instead.
  2. Visit your local animal rescue or shelter to find your next furry friend. Adopt a homeless pet and save two lives: the one you adopt and the one waiting next in line.
  3. Educate family members and friends about cruelty and be vigilant in your community.
  4. If you see an animal being abused or mistreated, report that incident to local authorities. The only way to truly prevent pain and suffering is to report the cruelty to law enforcement and/or animal welfare.
  5. Donate money and/or time. Help combat animal cruelty, neglect, and abandonment by donating to the rescue organization or purchasing needed supplies, such as pet food and household cleaners. You can also donate funds to help an abused animal as well as donate your time by serving as a volunteer for an animal welfare group in your area. 

Animal Welfare Volunteers Needed
From local shelters and rescues to larger, nation-wide organizations, each depends upon volunteers. In fact, many rescue organizations are strictly volunteer-based. If not for the dedication of volunteers and their love for pets, most companion animal groups would not function well or even exist.

Volunteers help pets in need in many ways. Whether walking dogs, brushing and socializing cats, or assisting with transports and fundraisers, volunteers are vital to the health, welfare, and adoption of pets. Here are five ways in which you can help animal rescue organizations as a volunteer:

  1. Donate time to walk and play with dogs or to brush and play with cats.
  2. Serve as a foster parent, providing a temporary home to injured or orphaned animals, those awaiting a new home, or mothers with very young kittens or puppies.
  3. Transport pets going to new homes or into rescue.
  4. Assist with fundraising and other special events.
  5. Serve as a board member or organize a group clean-up crew (which can include landscaping, painting, or cleaning inside the building).
Additionally, donations of money and supplies are always welcome.

During this month, remember that assisting shelters and rescues in various ways to help bring about greater awareness is vital. Consider being an advocate for animals this month and continue that good work all throughout the year.

Gayle M. Irwin writes inspirational pet stories for children and adults. She is the author of several books, a contributing writer to six Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and has a story published in last year's Memories from Maple Street U.S.A.: Pawprints on My Heart from Sundown Press. She regularly volunteers and contributes to various animal rescue organizations, and donates part of her book royalties to such groups. Currently, Gayle is working on three books, including a dog rescue story for children and another children's book about her newest rescue dog Mary, who is trained as a therapy dog. Learn more at


  1. An excellent message, Gayle. Enjoyed your post.

    1. Thank you, Zina -- I appreciate you reading it and commenting.

  2. I don't have foster animals right now, but that changes from day to day. I often take the classroom critters that don't have summer homes, and the end of the school year is nearing.

    A story...

    Just the other day, I was standing in the checkout line at Dollar General and the young man in front of me put a cute stuffed (plush) baby chick on the counter. The cashier made a comment, and the young man said something like this, "My girlfriend really wants a baby chick--a real one. We can't take care of a chicken, and I don't know what we'd do with it when it grew up. So I'm getting her this one for now."

    I wanted to hug him.

  3. Timely and well written post. Animals are so special, but so many don't understand that. Thank you and everyone who goes the extra mile to make their lives better. Doris

  4. This is a subject near and dear to my heart. Animals don't get a chance to make choices. They depend on people to help them and only want love from us. People who would hurt or neglect animals will surely end up doing the same to other humans. We cannot ignore this horrible behavior. Thank you for being part of the solution, Gale.