By Cara Sue Achterberg
Before you say you can't handle the heartache of reading sad stories about dogs in need, this is nothing like the gut wrenching ASPCA commercials that make you want to cry your heart out. From start to finish, these shelter dog stories are truly moving and in a great way.
Cara Sue Achterberg fosters dogs for the non-profit organization Operation Paws for Homes. While on a book tour for her first book (Another Good Dog: One Family and Fifty Foster Dogs) she visited multiple shelters to learn more about the behind the scenes heroes that were saving the dogs she fostered.
Each shelter taught Achterberg a new lesson in the challenges shelters faced. Many of the shelters were overcrowded and often had to turn away dogs or create policies that would discriminate against particular breeds or needs. Many had limited funds, limited volunteers, and limited resources to assist with basic medical care (vaccinations and spay/neuter) let alone more serious care (surgeries to correct defects, injuries, or illness). Tragically, many shelter locations prevented the public from seeing the animals as valuable pets. When a dog shelter is located in a landfill, how do you get these dogs noticed and valued by the public?
Along the journey, Achterberg discovered what worked by observing the success stories that were hidden gems in a field of sorrow. Dr. Kim Sanders of Anderson County P.A.W.S. was a ray of sunshine in the book. Her approach to the problem was both simple and complex. When Cara Sue Achterberg asked her "How did you turn this shelter into no-kill in just a few months?" her response was...
"We just stopped killing dogs."
Achterberg sums up the book with her suggestions to solving the problem after months of observing and interacting with these shelters (both the good, the bad, and the ugly). The following are some ways that we can help based on her recommendations:
Advocate for shelter and rescue dogs
Spread the word
Teach children how to safely interact with a dog
Love your dog
Additionally the back of the book provides a list of the shelters and rescue organizations mentioned throughout. If you'd like to foster, adopt, or donate the cause please follow us on Facebook where we will be posting a donation link and featuring rescues/shelters for the entire month of June in honor of this amazing book.