Finding Your Passion: Animals

3.23.16 Finding Your Passion

Do you love working with dogs and cats? Projects serving with animals are always one of the quickest types of Youth Volunteer Corps projects to fill up, so we know it’s something tons of our volunteers are passionate about. If you’ve discovered a passion for making a difference in this way, here’s how you can go even deeper.

Need to Know

Animal overpopulation is a serious problem. Experts aren’t sure exactly how many dogs and cats live in the U.S., but estimates for cats alone range up to 70 million. According to the ASPCA, each year approximately 7.6 million animals end up in shelters, and nearly 3 million don’t make it out.

What’s even more surprising is how quickly the animal population grows if pets aren’t spayed or neutered. Fertile cats produce an average of 1 to 2 litters of kittens each year, with an average of 4 to 6 kittens per litter. Fertile dogs produce an average of one litter a year, with an average of 4 to 6 puppies per litter. That means that two dogs or cats can become thousands within just a few years, and many of these pets will end up in shelters.

Another problem is that nearly one in five animals that enter a home are no longer in that home six months later, according to the American Humane Association. People give up pets for all kinds of reasons, but all of this creates more strain on our shelter system.

Des Moines - Animal Lifeline of Iowa 3.9.16 (1)
Take Action

You probably can’t adopt an entire shelter full of pets, so what can you do to help alleviate the animal overpopulation problem?

  • Volunteer at your local animal shelter to help walk dogs, socialize cats, clean kennels, help with adoptions and more. Just an hour a week can make a huge difference for these animals.
  • If your family and living situation allows it, adopt a pet from a shelter. Adopting instead of purchasing an animal from a breeder or even a friend who allowed their pet to reproduce is the first step to helping the animal overpopulation problem.
  • Make sure that any pets that you do have are spayed and neutered. Don’t let cost be a barrier here—most communities have options for low-cost and even free clinics to perform this essential procedure.
  • Educate others about the animal overpopulation problem and how they can do their part.
  • Hold a dog wash to raise money or collect supplies for local animal shelters—Do Something has all the info you need to do this.
  • Host a dog toy making party to create toys to donate to a local shelter—Do Something tells you everything you need to know for this too.
Make it a Career

Do you love animals so much that you want to make your career working with them? Here are just a few ideas:

  • Veterinarian or veterinary technician
  • Work at an animal shelter (Shelters need all kinds of staff to stay afloat, so you could be a volunteer coordinator, accountant, marketing staff, or more)
  • Animal behaviorist or pet trainer
  • Wildlife rehabilitation
  • Pet groomer
  • Animal therapist

How have you used your love of animals to make a difference? Share your story in the comments!


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