Many charities deserve to be supported. Diseases harm and kill all the time, for example. Cancer, heart disease and others then call for large support. Then there are situations in the world that are terrible and whole populations need help. This is true when natural disasters strike or when people are in danger because of cruel leaders. In plain terms it is not even possible to number all the causes that should be assisted. I realize that these are important and that people in need deserve help. At the same time I think of only one kind of charity when I think of what most deserves support: animal welfare.

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I am not talking about the organizations that protect endangered wildlife, although these are valuable groups and the causes are important. I am thinking about the organizations that save dogs, cats, and other pets people abuse. Many charities like this exist and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is the best known. There are others as well. These are national and international organizations that do great work. Still, the charity I feel most deserves support is the animal shelter that is in place in most communities. I believe that giving to these organizations is something everyone must try to do because they help suffering actually caused by us ourselves.

It upsets me when people think of animal rescues and shelters as unimportant. I think that some people also think of these organizations as wastes of effort that should be made for helping people. It is believed that human beings are more important than animals so any ability to support should be directed from people to people. However, the truth is that the rescues are in place because people can be extremely cruel and negligent. Dogs, cats, and other pets depend upon us for their survival. This is a reality we have created because we believe we have the right to do whatever we want with these animals. For most people this means real care for pets. They honestly love their dogs and cats, and give them proper care. However, even this type of person can sometimes treat animals badly. Things come up in their lives and suddenly the pet is only something to get rid of. Then there are truly cruel pet owners. They beat or starve their animals, and the lucky ones get rescued by the shelters. There they are cared for and have a chance for a good home. I most admire the no-kill shelters. These do everything possible to place the animals in homes because they will not put the dog or cat “to sleep.”

The reason I feel so strongly about this is not because I love animals, although I do. It is because human beings have a responsibility that cannot be denied. Even people in really bad circumstances have resources, most of the time. The drug addict can get help. The abused wife can find a shelter. The person suffering from a disease can get treatment. Animals have no such resources. They depend upon human beings completely because that is how we have set up their lives. In this world they must be fed and be given shelter or they will die. These are animals that have been bred for the purpose of belonging to people. There is no place for them in the outside world because we have taken away what they would need to live, including their hunting instincts. Even the dogs and cats that could survive in the wild are in great danger because there is no “wild.” This is a choice human beings have made and it comes with a huge responsibility. These creatures cannot survive without human care. Then, people are obligated to help the animals saved from abusive owners. Abuse comes in many forms, from lack of care and neglect to owners who breed dogs for fighting in illegal, bloody matches. These are innocent animals and society must do whatever it can to save them, since we are the ones who made them need us to begin with.

Another important reason animal rescues and shelters need support is because of their efforts to control the pet populations. Many such shelters offer neutering services for very low cost or for free. This is critical. As dogs and cats are left to live as strays, they will reproduce and create a larger population of vulnerable animals. Anyone who has had a cat having kittens knows how difficult it can be to find homes for them. This is then a part of the human responsibility to provide for helpless animals. Along with this is how so many shelters offer medical services for sick and injured pets at low or no cost. Taking a pet to doctor can be as expensive as seeing one yourself. In offering these services the shelter then helps to care even more, as people may be willing to “get rid of” a sick animal. It is all in place to take care of society’s obligation to animals, and I cannot stress enough how this is completely a human obligation.

Most of all I feel that local animals shelters should be priorities within all communities. They should be seen as vital services and not a last resort. There are untold millions of stray dogs and cats every years. They suffer and die, and they suffer and die because they have no rights as people have. Some animal owners mean well but become lazy. Some love their pets but, when their lives change, think of the pet as disposable. Others are just cruel and inhuman, and actually enjoy hurting innocent creatures. This creates a huge need and it is a need present in every community. You do not have to love dogs and cats to realize how very wrong it is for domestic animals to suffer. Then, these shelters are very good at making the most out of very little. They are happy for any support, so when a large number of people gives only a little, the needs are taken care of. Also, the shelter brings the community together. The person who comes by to donate goods or money, for example, may see a pet perfect for a friend. They may even decide that they have the home and the love to offer. No matter how it happens, however, it must be said again that human beings must accept this responsibility. Animals live the lives we create for them. If they suffer, it is because we have failed. The local animal shelter then offers a way to make this right.