Every pet can be an emotional support animal

Monday, April 30, 2018

Arriving home after a long day at work, there’s nothing like being greeted by someone who’s delighted to see you, accepts you unconditionally and would like nothing better than spending time with you.

A dog can do all of the above, as well as prodding you to get the exercise you know you really need, with, ahem, unpleasant consequences if you don’t take him for a walk.

Don’t expect the same overt display of affection from your cat, but some of us prefer pleasant purring, a rousing game of chase-the-laser or a furry friend curled up on our lap.

Unfortunately, there are more companion animals available than homes able to take them, thanks to owners who are no longer able to take care of them, irresponsible owners who allow them to breed, and many other circumstances beyond the animals’ control.

Each year, about 6.5 million companion animals enter U.S. animal shelters nationwide, about 3.3 million dogs and 3.2 million cats, according to the ASPCA.

That’s down from about 7.2 million in 2011, but there are still about 1.5 million animals euthanized each year, 670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats, that number also down from about 2.6 million in 2011.

The ASPCA estimates the numbers have improved because more animals are being adopted and more strays are being successfully returned to their owners.

About 3.2 million shelter animals are adopted each year, about 1.6 million each for cats and dogs.

About 720,000 animals are returned to their owners — by far more dogs, 620,000 dogs and 90,000 cats.

Hundreds of th0se animals are handled by the McCook Humane Society, which works hard to return animals to their owners and find homes for those who need them.

Formed by a group of volunteers in 1983, and serving Southwest Nebraska and Northwest Kansas, the private organization does receive some support from local governments but operates largely through the generosity of donors and volunteers.

That includes the “Cat Pack,” a group of McCook kids that supports the shelter and the adoption of shelter pets by conducting fund-raisers like bake sales and the sale of pet photograph badges. In 2017, the kids raised $3,380 with their “big” annual project — their “Cats and Dogs of McCook 2018” calendar contest.

Pet lovers can submit photos of their favorite pets and “vote” for “top dog” and “best cat” for the 2019 calendar at the contest website at http://bit.ly/2vVRPhC.

The top vote-getting dog and cat at the end of the voting will be declared “Cover Critters” and grace the cover of the new 2019 calendar. Other photo submissions will be scattered throughout the calendar months.

Voting ends Monday, July 9, at 7 p.m. All proceeds from the contest voting and the sale of the calendars go to the McCook Humane Society.

Located at 100 South Street in McCook, the shelter is open 2 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday. Call (308) 345-2372 or visit www.mccookhumanesociety.com for more information.

Not everyone can or should own a pet, but someone who has never owned one might be surprised how quickly they become part of the family.

If you’ve been thinking about taking that step, contact the McCook Humane Society for more information.

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