Animal Writes
28 February 1999 Issue

Help The Animals In Your Town

It's not easy to look, but you know they are there. Down that alley. Behind the
trailer. Under the abandoned car. Every city, town and country village has
them -- animals who aren't loved enough. The dog who sits at the end of a
5-foot chain, a rusting bowl -- water long since spilled. His "house" is a metal
drum that is stove-top, hot in the summer and warm as tissue paper in frigid
weather. His bed is a scrap of mildewed carpet. Toys? There are none.
Affection? That ended with puppyhood.

Or the cat, exhausted by too many pregnancies and hungry because "cats
can take care of themselves." Her eyes are wary; strangers can be cruel
and the streets are fraught with dangers. She has been chased by dogs and
narrowly escaped death beneath the wheels of cars.

You know they are missing everything that makes their lives worth living, but
someone "owns" them. What can be done?

PETA is reaching out to animals near our headquarters in Hampton Roads,
VA, with a highly successful program called Community Animal Project
(CAP). We realize that some people cannot afford to provide for their dogs
and cats, some do not know how and some just don't care. So our case-
workers are in the community, sleeves rolled up.

CAP staff and volunteers provide low-cost or free spaying and neutering and
transport animals to veterinarians for de-worming and other badly needed
treatments; they even bathe and groom dogs who have lived outside for years.
They always explain why companion animals need to live in the house with their
families and, if there's a willing ear, help people make that transition.

It doesn't always work. We may wonder why someone bothers to keep a dog
at all when the lonely animal is chained out of sight behind the house 24 hours
a day, but many people refuse to change and often remain within the law.
When this happens, determined to improve animals' lives, we do everything we
can to make the animals comfortable. We build, repair and weatherproof dog-
houses, then fill them with fresh bedding. If the homeowner will allow it, we
sometimes have to build or repair fences so that chained dogs can have free-
dom within the yard. At other times, we provide a running line and a harness
with a swivel so that the chained dog can exercise without getting tangled.

And we don't give up. Our caseworkers return to check on the animals and
replace old bedding. They continue to educate -- politely -- and urge reluctant
humans to be real companions to their animals.

The reward for all this hard work is in the eyes of a dog sinking gratefully to
sleep in the first comfortable, dry bed she's ever had. It's in the joyful leap of
an old dog who knows that someone cares for him -- at last.

* Start your own Community Animal Project. Write to PETA for a free
how-to kit.

* Never turn your back on an animal in need. A bowl of fresh water, a kind
word or scratch behind the ears mean everything to a lonely dog or cat.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
501 Front St.
Norfolk VA 23510

From Peta's Animal Times, Fall 1998

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