Giving thanks for helping animals

Many of you may have heard of Daniel, the beagle who survived a gas chamber in Alabama. I’ve been so moved by his story and encouraged at the response to his survival.

In October 2011, five year-old Daniel was one of 18 dogs that were to be euthanized at a shelter in Florence, Alabama. It’s estimated that 3-4 million shelter animals are euthanized yearly in the United States. Only 19 states have a ban on the use of carbon monoxide for animal euthanasia. Somehow, in this case, Daniel was able to survive the gassing. I’ve read that while this can happen, it happens infrequently—so Daniel is one lucky pup.

Fortunately for Daniel, since he survived the gas chamber, volunteers at the shelter brought him to a vet to check him out and then called rescue groups about adopting him. Eleventh Hour Rescue, a group out of Rockaway, NJ, agreed to take him in and with help from a volunteer pilot with the group Pilots N Paws, Daniel was flown with some other rescues to New Jersey. Just before Thanksgiving, it was reported that Daniel had found a forever home. What a happy ending for such a sad story!

We all know that there are few Daniels and many, many more animals that suffer the cruel fate of being euthanized in gas chambers. I was so encouraged to find out that Senator Andy Dinniman from my home state of Pennsylvania has introduced state Senate Bill 1329 to prohibit gassing of animals. Just last year, bills banning this practice were passed in Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, New Mexico, New York, and West Virginia. Clearly, there is a movement afoot by concerned humans who believe gassing is an inhumane practice. While I definitely think more work needs to be done to spay and neuter animals to keep them out of shelters permanently, this is a step in the right direction.

While it may not be possible for you to start your own rescue organization, fly an animal to safety, or help introduce state legislation, I believe all of us can do more for the animals. Sometimes, just starting a conversation about a topic can be the inspiration for one person to act and make a difference. Have you ever considered fostering an animal? Have you ever visited a rescue or sanctuary and then told others about the wonderful work they do? Maybe you’ve adopted a pet and recommended a great organization to a friend to find an animal companion. These are small acts that can lead to the spread of great kindness.

During this holiday season, please remember the animals in shelters. Your local shelter is most likely in need of supplies and food for the animals, and would be grateful for your support. There are plenty of rescue organizations that do incredible work to rescue, foster, and find home for strays every day. Small changes can have great impact. I’m so grateful for them, and for all the other folks who work tirelessly on behalf of animals.

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