View From Lodi, CA: Support Your Local Pet Shelter!

Every year, The Humane Society of
the United States, in conjunction with

The Fund for Animals
, creates a federal

Humane Scorecard
.

The scorecard gives readers a
summary of animal protection issues that Congress
considered over the year and allows constituents to see
if their legislators are voting pro or con on bills
designed to

protect animals
.

California`s two Senators—Dianne
Feinstein and Barbara Boxer—earned scores of 100+ from
the HSUS while San Joaquin County Congressman Richard
Pombo received a disappointingly low total of only 10.

Among the most pressing animal
issues that the Senate will consider this year is the

Pet Animal Welfare Statute
, PAWS, that seeks to end
mass breeding operations commonly referred to as
“puppy mills.”
 

All animal lovers remember the
devastation that Hurricane Katrina leveled on tens of
thousands of pets along the Gulf Coast region of the
southeastern U.S.

In response, Senator Rick Santorum
(R-PA) and Senator John Ensign (R-NV)

pressed
President George W. Bush to designate an
individual to coordinate the federal government`s
response to coordinate animal rescue efforts during
emergencies or natural disasters.

Ensign, a Doctor of Veterinarian
Medicine from Colorado State University, won the HSUS “Humane
Legislator of the Year
” award.

The encouraging Congressional
actions are a true indication of American`s love affair
with

their pets
.

Nothing gave greater evidence of
this that the outpouring of affection shown after
Katrina, now acknowledged as the

largest animal rescue
operation in history.

When Katrina struck New Orleans,
Louisiana`s more than 250,000 pets – from cats and

dogs
to parrots and fish – were stranded by the
devastating storm.

Owners racing to safety expected to
return home after only a few days. But days turned into
weeks. Pets had to struggle to survive without supplies,
medical treatment or, most importantly, the love and
affection of their owners.

One of the veterinarians on the
scene was

Dr. Debra Campbell
who currently works on the
Department of Homeland Security`s Veterinarian Medical
Assistant Team.

Campbell, who lives in Boston with

11 cats
and dogs, recommends that people who are
moved by the rescue efforts of her compassionate staff
volunteer at their local shelter.

Lodians are blessed with dedicated
professionals at the

Animal Shelter
. Other tireless, all-volunteer groups
support them. Collectively, they work long hours for the
safety, comfort and ultimately the adoption of needy
pets.

The three principle support groups
are:

Last week, I ran into PALS
president Daunis Bradshaw at Robinson`s Feed. PALS
manages a seven-days-a-week feline adoption center at
Robinson`s and Bradshaw was busily tending to cages and
showing off cats to shoppers.

Bradshaw told me that she is very
excited about

the new adoption center
adjacent to the Animal
Shelter. Scheduled to be open in February, Bradshaw said
that the brand new facility will make it much easier to
adopt out pets. At the same time, the new modular unit
will make precious space available at the existing
shelter for a medical triage unit.

“The
animal shelter was built in 1960 more than 40 years ago.
Since that time, Lodi`s human population has tripled and
so has its pet population
,” Bradshaw said.

Acknowledging that the struggle for
money is always present, Bradshaw said that the original
goal of raising $50,000 by January fell way short.

“The
real goal is saving animal lives,”
according to
Bradshaw. “Having deeper pockets would mean we could
place more abandoned cats and dogs.”

Jeanie Biskup, Special Services
Manager of the Lodi Police Department, confirmed what
Bradshaw told me.

According to Biskup,

Lodians
are excited about the added space and the fact that we
will be able to provide a more comfortable facility for
our animals waiting for adoption.”

But, added Biskup,

“We can
always use more assistance at the Animal Shelter.  We
work with PALS and Animal Friends Connection. We rely on
these
non-profit organizations to help place the shelter
adoptable animals,
but they can only do so much.”

Biskup concluded,

Where
we could use the help of the community is by addressing
the cause of the problem, pet overpopulation. If Lodians
would spay or neuter their pets it would greatly reduce
the housing and care problems we currently face.”

Thankfully, few of us will ever be
in a situation like Katrina. But all of us can follow
the advice of Campbell by donating our time, money and
services to the Lodi Animal Shelter.

And if you`re looking for a pet,
the Lodi Animal Shelter, Animal Friends Connection and
Lodi Cat Connection are the places to go.

By the way, readers might be
interested to know that my new cat`s name is Rolo.

Joe Guzzardi [email
him], an instructor in English
at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly
column since 1988. It currently appears in the


Lodi News-Sentinel
.