“In every community there is work to be done. In every nation, there are wounds to heal. In every heart there is the power to do it.”
Between two and three thousand puppies and kittens are born in the U.S. every hour. That averages out to more than 30 million animals a year. Only one out of ten will find a permanent home. Many more will be abandoned to suffer and die on the streets or languish in lonely backyards without companionship, exercise or, in many cases, even basic necessities such as food, water, shelter or veterinary care.
Sadly, our disposable society has created a new commodity: the disposable pet. Over the years the homeless animal population has skyrocketed due largely to a lack of commitment on the part of the pet owner, the misconception that the Humane Society or shelters can take care of all unwanted pets, and failure of the pet owner to spay and neuter animals.
Cats and dogs roaming free present a health threat to local residents and their pets. Strays negatively impact the environment. Even their welfare is at risk. More than half of homeless kittens are reportedly killed by either a dog or an automobile before the age of six months.
Wendy Griffith, a program specialist at DEC’s North Penn Training Center, grasped the severity of the problem, and–with the support of director Clare Sweeney–looked for ways that individuals at the Hatfield facility could get involved. Wendy’s probes led her to Pawsibilities Animal Rescue in Skippack–a no-kill shelter that gives sick, injured, stray and abandoned cats the love and care they deserve, while staff and volunteers look to find them forever homes.
In what has literally become a popular “pet project” at the DEC training center, a contingent of developmentally disabled volunteers make weekly visits to the shelter…tending to litter boxes, keeping floors neat and clean, providing as many as 30 feline residents at a time with fresh drinking water, food and tasty snacks. But make no mistake–as Wendy explains, the animals are not the only ones that benefit from these acts of kindness.
“The activity has significant nurturing value, providing our folks with a sense of responsibility, while improving their communications skills, heightening their self-esteem and promoting integration into the community,” she notes. “The volunteers feel part of each animal’s life, and love discussing their involvement with others. It’s something that has made a difference in their lives, while they make a difference in the well-being of our community.”