Did you know that only 23% of dogs in US households come from rescue facilities? Or that each year, over 1.5 million orphan shelter pets lose their lives without finding their forever home? If we had a way of sharing each of those 1.5 million stories, would you stop and listen?
I have always felt that numbers alone simply don’t cut it when it comes to orphan shelter pets losing their lives. The numbers are staggering. They are larger than anything we can wrap our heads around. And no matter how hard we try, there is no way any one of us can lend enough time or attention to fully appreciate the value that is annually lost in each one of those 1.5 million orphan shelter pets.
When I think about those numbers, I see the faces that I’ve known and loved. After 14 years of befriending orphan shelter pets, that’s a lot of animals. I can’t even remember how many times I have said goodbye to a perfectly good dog or cat. Trying to quantify those losses fails to convey the injustice and inhumanity of it all. Remembering each individual and all the little details that made him or her unique is far more likely to make that point.
This is the problem with numbers alone. They fail to elicit that guttural response from people. You know what I’m talking about. That physiological reaction that you can’t control. Though mask it, you may try. In writing these words, I myself have been surprised by the emotions that surfaced. Tears that felt like they started in my gut have gushed out of my eyes as I type. No matter how many times I revisit them, these bittersweet memories of my lost friends always bring me to my knees.
“Unnecessary euthanasia – killing – of these magnificent pets has to stop. And the only way it’s going to stop is showing the public that we collectively can do something to make a difference. And Remember Me Thursday is the catalyst that’s going to help us get there.” – Mike Arms, President/CEO, Helen Woodward Center
It’s not fun to think about the ones we lost. But it’s not right to forget them, no matter how painful it was to see them go. In fact, letting ourselves feel that internal turmoil can motivate us to fix the problem. Sharing their stories can show us what could have saved them. It’s in motivating each other and identifying specific solutions that we’ll get anything done. If we want to end the unnecessary deaths of more orphan shelter pets, we must remember the ones that died. Every. Single. One.
We must remember them. That’s why I love this campaign from the Helen Woodward Center. Remember Me Thursday® is “a global awareness campaign uniting individuals and pet adoption organizations around the world as an unstoppable, integrated voice for orphan pets to live in forever homes, not die waiting for them.” Help spread awareness about the importance of pet adoption by sharing your #RememberMeThursday story in the comments below or tag us on instagram. And don’t forget to light a candle, for all the ones we couldn’t save in the past but will in the future.