Animal adoption saves lives

By jennifer Sturm

A pup mom

My name is Miley Marie. I was one of approximately 6.5 million companion animals who enter U.S. animal shelters each year. Of those, approximately 3.2 million shelter animals are adopted; approximately 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized each year. The others are either relocated to rescue groups or are reunited with their owners because they were lost and their humans wanted them to come back home.

I was a stray. That means I was homeless. I didn't have a home to call my own. I didn't have humans who loved and cared for me. I didn't have a safe place to sleep, I couldn't count on having enough food to eat each day or water to drink. I was left to fend for myself. I was wandering around trying to make my way through life right here in Franklin. I'd been pregnant and had puppies within the past year and I was in heat again when I was picked up and taken to the animal shelter. It was at the shelter that it was discovered that I had heartworms. An infected mosquito had bitten me. My chance of living a healthy life or living at all was pretty bleak.

This might be when you may start feeling sorry for me. My story isn't unusual, there are so many of us out there -- dogs and cats -- right in your hometown. My story has a happy ending. My lucky day was the day that I was taken to the Simpson County Animal Shelter. They saved my life. I was checked over by a veterinarian, given medicine to get rid of the fleas I had and I was given a place to sleep. My kennel at the shelter had a concrete floor and there was lots of noise with other dogs crying and barking, but I had a place to sleep, food and water and kind people who talked to me and took me outside for walks. Most of the dogs at the shelter are scared and don't understand why they are there and that fear can be contagious. I tried to keep my spirits up. Five days came and went and nobody came to pick me up, to claim me as his or her dog. Sometimes that happens -- dogs or cats are lost and their people come to the shelter to find them and take them home. After that, I had more treatment. I was spayed so that I couldn't get pregnant again and I was given other vaccinations. For weeks after that, I waited in my kennel wishing for a nice human to come along that would love me forever. I would certainly be devoted to him or her for the rest of my life.

Like many dogs that enter shelters, I had heartworms. You see: if a shelter dog has heartworms, it makes it harder to get adopted and it's difficult for shelters to treat animals who have heartworms because it is expensive and can take months. Here is where I got lucky again. The nice people at the shelter really took a shine to me. I was always smiling no matter what every single day. They nicknamed me Smiley Miley. The people at the shelter put my picture up on their Facebook page and asked for donations for my heartworm treatment. They do that for a lot of dogs, not just me. They do so much to try to get all the shelter pets adopted because they love us and want us to find forever homes. The Simpson County Animal Shelter doesn't have a lot of money nor do they have a lot of people. I wish they did because they could save more lives, like mine. I also want people to know that every time a person comes to the shelter to volunteer time to visit with the dogs -- it means so much! It's scary and lonely being in a strange place. Hearing a human voice, feeling the gentle hand of a human petting us and maybe taking us for a walk makes all the difference in our days. And of course, the more humans who see us, our chances of being adopted increases.

Me? I was one of the really lucky ones. I was adopted. I have a family now that includes a Boxer sister named Millie and 6 feline brothers and sisters. I live in a house that is safe and comfortable. I have a couch to take a nap on and a bed to sleep in. I have plenty of food and snacks. I'm treated with lots of kindness. I'm finishing up my heartworm treatment and my new human mom will make sure I have medicine every month so I will never have to worry about having worms in my heart again.

What can you do to help other homeless animals have a happy ending like mine? Please make sure you are spaying and neutering your pets so that they don't have unwanted litters of puppies and kittens. If you are thinking about letting your dogs or cats have babies on purpose: please don't. There are so many animals that have already been born that need homes. If you are looking to welcome a pet into your life, please visit animal shelters to find your forever dog or cat. I believe with my whole heart that humans should adopt, not shop. When you adopt, you are literally saving a life. When you do adopt, do so with the intention that it is forever. Consider donating time and/or money to the shelter so that the lives of shelter pets can be improved and saved. If you can, attend a Fiscal Court meeting and ask your elected officials to visit the shelter and let them know that funding the shelter is something you support and value. If you can't attend a meeting, write them a letter.

My life is good now, but I want other animals to have the same chance at an awesome life. Thank you Simpson County Animal Shelter for being there when I needed you.

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