Animal rescue and welfare: Where we are in the US

When compared to the state of the effort 15 to 20 years ago, the animal rescue and welfare movements are definitely in a good place.

Sure, we’re not where we want to be in many ways and there is still a long way to go, but if we look at the movement through a glass-half-full window, conditions are on the upswing. Here’s where I’m coming from –

Back in 1998, my wife and I had to say goodbye to a much-loved member of our family, a basset hound named Otis. Soon after his death – due to a severe intestinal condition – we decided to try to rescue another basset hound. We searched the Internet and local publications in Southeastern North Carolina and could not find a homeless basset anywhere in our region.

I look back on that time now as being very different from what our search might yield today. Breed rescue organizations have since popped up all over the map. I’ve got links to dozens of rescue groups from Southeaster NC posted on my local Cape Fear Critters blog.

I would venture to say that with only a very few exceptions, most all of them were founded within the last decade or so.

The first decade of this century saw a great, much-needed growth spurt for rescue. Prior to this time, people in my region either went to the local Humane Society shelter or to the animal control office to find a cat or dog to save. Other than that, the options where few and far between.

The Internet has proven to be steroids – in a good way – for rescue and animal welfare. I’m a late bloomer on Facebook and once I dove in I was amazed at the growing number of organizations using the social-networking community to promote causes from dog and cat rescue to saving the seals, whales and birds.

Anti-puppy mill bills and proposals to improve the quality of life for farm animals have cropped up in various states over the last couple of years. And for the bills that have not made it a governor’s desk, the prospects seem better now than at any time in the past.

Greyhound racing is in a steep decline because the general public is better-educated in regard to the condition these dogs endure on a daily basis. Dog fighting is getting more attention in the national media.

When I consider there are still so many animals living in cruel or torturous conditions, I’m gripped by the thoughts. But I keep at this and continue to move forward because I know strides have been made and it gives me hope more can be achieved in the coming months and years.

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