By Eliza Gonzalez
38 dogs. 35 cats. 73 animals currently waiting for homes at Lollypop Farm in Fairport. These 73 animals represent a small fraction of a much larger problem in the U.S.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, about 6.5 million animals enter shelters in the U.S. each year; however, only 3.2 million of them are adopted. Many people choose to get dogs and cats from breeders or pet stores, leaving millions of shelter animals in need.
“I think that it’s important to rescue because it brings dogs and cats out of bad situations and creates better lives for them,” Alexis Potter, a local adoption advocate said. “My rescue dog was named Lola. She was affectionate and so sweet,” Potter said.
Data from the City of Rochester Animal Services shows that 407 animals were adopted between July of 2020 and September of 2021. While this may seem like a considerable number, there were still 35 animals left in need of homes at the conclusion of this research period. Currently that number is even larger. 32 dogs and 20 cats are waiting for homes at the Rochester Animal Services Animal Shelter on Verona Street.
Fostering is also a good way to help animals in need. Fostering involves providing temporary care for shelter animals while they wait for their forever homes.
“I choose to foster cats because cats are my favorite animal, and they are relatively low maintenance,” said Madeline Cherwonik, a local college student who fosters kittens. “So far, I have fostered about 22 kittens. Usually, I do five or six kittens at a time because they are all from the same litter,” Cherwonik said.
Adoption and foster placements are the most ideal outcomes for most shelters, but there are many other ways that community members can help local animals in need.
“There are so many positions and ways to help as a volunteer,” Karen Stolt, the Volunteer Manager at Lollypop Farm said. “You can walk dogs, take care of small animals or cats, work on the farm, stuff envelopes, help out at events, wash dishes, or even do laundry. There are just so many ways to help out. We have over 825 active volunteers at Lollypop Farm, and we are always looking for more,” Stolt said.
Volunteers provide a variety of services that help keep Lollypop Farm and many other animal shelters in the U.S. open.
“Volunteering your time is a great way to get involved and help out animals if you aren’t looking for something too permanent like fostering. Donating supplies is also a really good way to help animals in need,” Cherwonik added.
Lollypop Farm relies on donations from community members, including supplies. They even have a list of the items they need most urgently.
“Whether it be time, money, or food, donations are the greatest way to help out,” Stolt explained. “We have an Amazon Wish-list that people can help us out with by ordering and getting it sent to us directly. Also, education is big. Learn about the animals and what we do and then go out and tell others. Spread the word,” she said.
Adopting, fostering, volunteering, and donating are all ways that local community members can help make a difference in shelter animals’ lives.
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