My challenge: Let’s get these pets some beds!

January 22, 2010

OCEFilmingI think it happens to every pet lover sometimes. We go somewhere — a friend’s house, vacation, the park — and we see animals who could use our help. Maybe it’s homeless cats behind a mall, or a dog whose owner can’t afford his medical care.

Most recently for me, it was the people and animals I met at Orange County Animal Care Services while I was in Orlando for the North American Veterinary Conference and filming a series of videos and public service announcements.

This shelter, which is run by the county, adopts out over 5,000 pets a year. Last year, they saved more than 8,200. Their community gives more than 15,000 hours of volunteer help.

The people who work there are incredibly dedicated, and they’re doing the best they can to save and help as many animals as they can. They see everything… pets whose owners have to give them up to the massive foreclosure crisis that’s crushing Florida. Dogs and cats who are heartworm positive, whose owners have died, cats who won’t use the litter box. And reason or no reason, they take in the pets and treat them with love, respect, and wonderful care, all in a clean, bright, odor free facility.

DogsBedCrowdedI was impressed. I was thankful for the people who work there. I was hopeful for the pets that want a home. And I was concerned when I saw dogs without enough places to lie down, like these two Italian greyhounds sharing one bed in a run with a pit bull mix.

The folks at OCACS aren’t happy about the lack of beds, either. They’ve got a donation drive going on to try to get beds donated to the shelter, to keep the dogs and cats off the hard ground and cats off cage floors. So far they’ve only received 10, and they need over 150.

I’d like to see if we can help them with that.

By next Friday, January 29, I challenge my Pet Connection readers and my friends, followers, family and fans — real life and social media alike — to dig deep and help the animals of the OCAS get those beds, which cost between $56 and $67.

Just go to their Web site, read about the “Warm nose, cold toes” program, and give some love to the homeless animals of Orange County, Florida.

I know there are worthy shelters and needy animals everywhere, and if you’d rather give to help the dogs and cats in your own backyard, I certainly understand. I support local efforts to help pets, too, and I’ll continue to do so.

But sometimes a special group of people and animals just touches your heart, and that’s what’s happened here for me. So in addition to buying several beds for them, I’ve also donated some materials to help them raise money and increase adoption rates.

And I’m asking you to help, too. Let’s get these dogs and cats up off the hard floors.

Photos courtesy of my iPhone, taken at OCACS.

Filed under: non-profits and charities,pets, connected — Dr. Marty Becker @ 2:46 pm

26 Comments »

  1. another thing shelters can do, is start cage comforter programs (or independent groups/folks can do it)

    http://pleasebekind.com/ccp.html

    nycacc has a program. a few summers back some knitters got together and started a drive for cage comforters. somehow my mom found out about it in CA and by the time I contacted her she was already making them for our shelter. this is a great way for folks to use up extra fabric and yarn (those of use who part take in these areas always have extras!) and help at the same time. nycacc sends the cats and kittens home with theirs.

    Comment by straybaby — January 22, 2010 @ 3:47 pm

  2. Snoopy whispered down from heaven that he wants to donate a dog bed to help out too!

    Comment by Snoopy's Friend — January 22, 2010 @ 4:18 pm

  3. PS Make sure you click on the Orange County Animal Services link (and not the Shelter in Ca.) there is a drop down window where you scroll through the list of Shelters to donate to the one Dr. Becker posted about.

    Comment by Snoopy's Friend — January 22, 2010 @ 4:31 pm

  4. Donated two cat beds!

    Comment by mikken — January 22, 2010 @ 6:44 pm

  5. I’ve been in hundreds of shelters and have felt for the volunteers in 99% of them and the animals in 100%.

    When I graduated from veterinary school and moved to Southern Idaho to start practicing in 1980, the animals in the local shelter were being gassed to death with carbon monoxide. A passionate animal advocate, Bobbi Wolverton, got in my face the first week of practice telling me about the practice and imploring me to do something. I met her at the shelter after work, watched some dogs dying of suffication, and decided on the spot that not another animal would die in such a horrific manner (to this day I can’t get the image out of my mind). So that day, I started volunteering to humanely euthanize pets. Over the next five years I didn’t help hundreds pass, it was thousands. For every pet we could adopt, 10 died.

    Seeing the life leave innocent puppies and kittens, and euthanizing adults whose family just tied them to the front door at night because they didn’t want them anymore changed me. For better and worse. It galvanized me to make a lifelong commitment to help all pets live happy, healthy, full lives. It motivated me to donate generously to help animals in need. Regarding worse, I could no longer donate my time at shelters — even when I wasn’t euthanizing pets — because I couldn’t stand to see the hope and trust in a pet’s face extinguished by a needle. And I really struggle, to this day, to euthanize any animal even one that has an incurable illness or is suffering. In the past two years of practice at North Idaho Animal Hospital in Sandpoint, ID, I’ve only euthanized two animals and both were almost agonal when I did it.

    I have a really hard time going into shelters, but every time I do, I’m so moved by the workers and the volunteers but especially by the animals. Orange Country Animal Services was — I’m not kidding here — lick the floors clean. No odor. None. That means clean. It’s designed for 250 pets and at any one time houses 7-800 with 2-4 pets per run. To see the obvious comfort of those who had beds (always with 2-4 dogs in a bed in a pile-o’-pups!)vs. those who were on concrete made push to get enough beds for every run.

    Gina and I have talked about a “charity conveyer” where we could have multiple charities on the conveyer and as donations came in the convenyer belt would move. Our friend Erika Basile a REAL animal lover in Naples, FL gave us the idea. Once the donations reached a certain level — say $1000 — it would drop off the conveyer fully funded and another worthy charity would move forward for its turn at the trough.

    The charity conveyer isn’t up and working yet, but let’s open our hearts up and get the pets in this incredible facility off of the conrete and into beds. Then next month, let’s tackle another worthy cause and help our precious pets.

    Comment by Dr. Marty Becker — January 23, 2010 @ 11:06 am

  6. This is a great cause, and I’m happy to support it by purchasing a bed for the shelter. I have a shelter dog and she’s the greatest thing to happen to me. Shes the sweetest, and most loving animal you could ever hope to have. These wonderful dogs could be given just that extra bit of comfort with a bed from your generous donation.

    Comment by Kira Yamato — January 24, 2010 @ 2:41 pm

  7. One of the few luxuries afforded to a shelter pet is a warm and dry place to lie. From my work in shelters as a volunteer and evaluator for the National Search Dog Foundation I have learned that one of the few things a dog or cat has to look forward to in their cage is their bed, which becomes their safe place. I purchased an extra large dog bed for the Orange County Shelter as just a small way I can better life for shelter pets. However small the gift of a shelter bed, I know it will touch the lives of many shelter dogs as a way to improve their temporary home in the shelter and make them more comfortable. At the SFSPCA Dog Training Academy this spring I worked with a chihuahua named Roscoe who shared this exact make of bed with two other chihuahua companions. Roscoe was a timid little dog who who afraid of many things and would shake in fear. However, his bed shared with his other doggy friends was the one place he would run to as his safe place and they would curl up on each other on the bed for warmth. The bed was able to provide a source of home to my little companion in the cold shelter environment. The value of a warm bed for a shelter animal can never be underestimated.

    Comment by Mikkel Becker Shannon — January 24, 2010 @ 5:39 pm

  8. Pets have been a big part of my life. Anything I can do to help a shelter pet is worth it. I purchased a bed for the shelter as my way of saying thank you.

    Comment by Pat — January 24, 2010 @ 5:55 pm

  9. Two cat beds sent with best wishes from our newest family member, Aloysius – adopted from S.T.A.R.T II in Nanuet, NY with the help of Petfinder.

    Comment by Mark — January 25, 2010 @ 8:28 am

  10. Simple, basic comfort while sleeping. It’s a given at my place. Dog beds strategically placed throughout the house. Horses bedded on rubber mats covered in six inches of pine shavings. Heck, even the barn cat has a fleece-lined memory foam bed atop the hay stack (with a heated insert, on cold nights).

    I’m embarrassed to say that beds of any sort for shelter dogs were not on my radar. They are now. Thank you for pointing out this basic need. Bed donated.

    Comment by Rori — January 25, 2010 @ 9:50 am

  11. Thanks to your generosity Dr. Becker and that of your blog readers we have already received notification of 11 new beds purchased for our shelter pets! They should arrive within a week and will go into our kennels immediately. We’ll be sure to send photos of our shelter guests enjoying soft new places to lay their heads.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Orange County Animal Services

    Comment by Kat Kennedy — January 25, 2010 @ 10:20 am

  12. This is great news. I’m so pleased and have been waiting to hear how many new beds they got. I hope they get more beds too. I know Haiti is a big concern but it is nice to know that there is enough love and care to help animals here too.

    Comment by Snoopy's Friend — January 25, 2010 @ 10:28 am

  13. I know Dr. Becker is trying to get a bed count! We’ll keep you posted on the progress of the challenge.

    Comment by Christie Keith — January 25, 2010 @ 11:40 am

  14. Just got an update: We’re up to 13 beds!

    Comment by Christie Keith — January 25, 2010 @ 2:22 pm

  15. Thank you for the update. 13 beds is wonderful. I pray all the animals will have beds and be off the cold floor.

    Comment by Snoopy's Friend — January 25, 2010 @ 2:24 pm

  16. Wow, we have been getting call throughout the day from your viewers wanting to donate beds for the animals at Orange County! The donors range from Washington State, TX, NY and Ontario Canada.
    As of this evening, there have been 11 dog beds andd 8 cat beds donated, or 19 total beds so far. We will keep you posted on the numbers throughout the week.
    Great job!

    Comment by Kuranda Dog Beds — January 25, 2010 @ 11:19 pm

  17. We’re so excited! Just got some delivered and we’re putting them together now :)

    Comment by Kat Kennedy — January 26, 2010 @ 1:29 pm

  18. I just bought one, too! What a nice feeling! And I have composed a song:

    Pets on the floor!
    Pets on the floor!
    Lookin’ like a FOOL with your
    Pets on the floor!

    (So buy a bed for the shelter now!!!)

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — January 26, 2010 @ 1:50 pm

  19. Oh great song Gina! Who can refuse that? Just bought a bed too! (-:

    Comment by Sandi K — January 26, 2010 @ 2:24 pm

  20. Love the song! May I add a post-donation refrain?

    One pet off the floor!
    One pet off the floor!

    I’m feelin’ pretty cool
    ’bout one pet off the floor!

    Comment by Rori — January 26, 2010 @ 2:48 pm

  21. I’ll add a refrain:

    I got a bed
    I got a bed
    yippee eye aye
    I’ve got a bed today.

    Comment by Snoopy's Friend — January 26, 2010 @ 2:53 pm

  22. In memory of my greatest dogs and loving companions, Peanut Butter and Shelby, (miniature schnauzers), I have taken your challenge and ordered four large beds for the shelter in Florida. Come on everyone, join me in caring about these animals that need our help!!! Buy/donate a bed today!!! Virginia Becker (Dr. Marty Becker’s Mom :) )

    Comment by Virginia Becker — January 26, 2010 @ 4:19 pm

  23. LOL

    Comment by Kat Kennedy — January 26, 2010 @ 5:41 pm

  24. we did it

    Comment by Virginia Becker — January 26, 2010 @ 5:58 pm

  25. If it’s good enough for Marty’s mom, it’s more than good enough for me!

    Comment by Christie Keith — January 26, 2010 @ 7:43 pm

  26. I am the Division Manager of Orange County Animal Services in Orlando, Florida. I want to extend a HUGE and heartfelt thank you to all those donating the beds to our shelter. Donations are pouring in and we cannot be more thankful to all of you for helping our shelter pets. Thank you, Dr. Becker, for visiting us and for asking your supporters to help our shelter. We greatly appreciate it!
    Katie Lockett, Division Manager, Orange County Animal Services, Orlando, FL

    Comment by Katie Lockett, Orange County Division Manager Animal Services — February 1, 2010 @ 1:52 pm

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