Community voices: Homeless dogs need a greater level of care

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Homeless and stray dogs creates a problem for city authorities, creating the prospect of food hygiene hazards and injuries to passersby when animals are scared.

As a nation of animal lovers, America plays host to a huge population of dogs.

Many are sadly neglected, leading to centers taking in 3.3 million homeless dogs every year, nationally, according to the ASPCA. Anderson, one notable Illinois shelter, looked after 5,048 in three locations, Bloomingdale included, in 2017 alone.

Homeless and stray dogs creates a problem for city authorities, creating the prospect of food hygiene hazards and injuries to passersby when animals are scared.

However, homelessness in dogs is a problem for the animals first and foremost. Solving the problem at its root cause will benefit the city.

Addressing core needs

Dogs can thrive in the wild, but their domestication has disabled some intrinsic attributes.

One recent study, conducted at the University of Vienna, has suggested that domestication disables pack mentality, meaning domesticated animals are entirely dependent on their human for their well-being.

The benefits that a dog gains from having a human companion to provide protection from threats faced in the outdoors are numerous, ranging from advanced alert to tick and other parasite infestations, to maintaining a healthy coat that doesn’t attract disease and damp.

Good work is being done in Illinois to help homeless dogs receive these crucial human interactions in the interim; in Springfield, the Clark Co. Dog Shelter is working actively with the community to bring a little more interaction to the dogs, providing socialization and crucial medical treatment, through Christmas-related sponsorship activities.

Ultimately, the idea is to prevent any euthanization by having dogs well looked after and socialized, even within the shelter.

Measures already in place

No-kill principles are indicative of the care that Americans place in animals, and there are increasing levels of this shelter type nationally.

NPR estimate that there are now 14,000 shelters across the USA, catering for a total of 8 million animals.

A cursory Google search reveals approximately 20 within a reasonable radius of Champaign-Urbana.

More and more of these shelters are converting to the no-kill ethos in the aim of preserving the life of these animals.

Improvements for the future

Despite increasing levels of no-kill shelters, the ASPCA approximate that 26,000 dogs are euthanized in the USA every year.

This is partly because there simply aren’t the resources. Tackling this requires three things; awareness, time, and money.

Many shelters will offer funds to adopting families to help them manage animal bills, which are often a little larger than normal due to the complex needs of previously homeless animals.

Still, donations and volunteering time are in short supply and will make a real difference in future years, especially for reuniting lost dogs with their owners, which is often a labor of love.

America is rife with homeless dogs and this is a reflection of the nation’s joy for furry friends. More than ever before, they are being helped, but more can be done.

Doing so will help civic and public priorities while making the lives of these dogs far happier.

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