Humane society recognizes local shelters

This week is National Shelter Appreciation Week.

Terrier chihuahua mix Annie Rose runs around in an exercise pen Monday at the Central Missouri Humane Society. Annie Rose is 10 years old and available for adoption as a part of Adopt a Senior Pet Month.

Adding a new member to the family can be as simple as taking a trip to the local animal shelter, and Sunday began the perfect week to do just that. Nov. 7 to Nov. 13 is National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week.

Inga Fricke, director of sheltering initiatives at the Humane Society of the United States, said the important thing about shelter week is giving the shelters the credit they deserve.

“It was just a way to recognize the work that shelter workers do every day,” she said. “As every year we want to bring attention to the great work shelters are doing.”

HSUS is doing many things to advocate shelter week this year. It has promotional material on its website, information about how community members can get the word out and partnerships with "Mutts" comic strip writer Patrick McDonnell and television host Ellen Degeneres.

Degeneres is selling shirts that advocate rescuing shelter animals to raise awareness for the week.

“Any sale in the shirts on (talk show host) Ellen DeGeneres' website goes to the HSUS shelter services program that we can then in turn use to spend on shelters around the country,” Fricke said.

Every year McDonnell supports shelter week in his national comic strip in order to raise awareness.

“HSUS contacted me to make me aware of National Animal Shelter (Appreciation) Week and asked me if I could somehow mention it in Mutts,” McDonnell said in an email. “And that began the Mutts Shelter Stories. Every year during this week (and also for a week in the spring) I focus the Mutts strips on shelter pets, reminding people to adopt a new best friend.”

Central Missouri Humane Society spokeswoman Allison Toth said there is a big difference in animals bought from pet stores, breeders and rescued animals.

“At a pet store, all their animals are coming from large-scale breeding areas,” she said.

Toth said animals in stores often have health issues and the store doesn’t follow up with its adoptions.

“We do a little bit of research to make sure you’re going to provide a good home for the animal,” she said.

McDonnell said there are a number of things people can do in order to support shelter week and shelter animals in general.

“Of course, if you're thinking about getting a cat or dog, always adopt,” he said. “Each time you buy rather than adopt it means an animal in the shelter does not find a home.”

McDonnell said ballots such as Proposition B, which received national attention for its advocacy of increased regulations on puppy mills, are important for making the world a better place for animals.

“This year, because of Missouri's ballot to reduce suffering at puppy mills, I centered the strips on puppy mill dogs to raise awareness,” McDonnell said.

Fricke said HSUS had a large hand in getting the initiative passed.

“It’s very important to raise the standard of care for dogs,” she said.

CMHS stayed neutral on the proposition, so as to not alienate some of its adopting families, who Toth said were split on the issue.

“We are for animal welfare, not animal legislation,” she said. “We remained neutral. We're not 100 percent sure how its passing is going to affect us.”

Toth said the influx of breeders who are required to downsize is controlled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which finds places for the additional dogs to go before finding a home.

“We definitely encourage people to thank their local personnel and also to consider shelters as places to look for wonderful family pets,” Fricke said.

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