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Volunteer Voices: Raising awareness about animals in need

I've always been an animal lover. I was lucky enough to grow up in a home with both dogs and cats. I laughed off fur on my clothes rather than get annoyed. My family lived in a house that was made a home with the addition of these four-legged creatures. It was only natural to take this love with me into my adulthood. I currently have three cats and a dog — all rescues — and my children are growing up with the understanding and respect of these babies' lives.

Until getting involved in something similar to an 'underground railroad' for dogs and cats escaping euthanasia from a southern shelter, I hadn't given much thought to our local shelters. I joined a grassroots movement called Reform Baltimore County Animal Services — RBCAS — to see what I could do to help bring awareness about the handling of animals in some of the shelters in Maryland.

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Through RBCAS, I have been privy to learning about how modern day shelters should operate and how they work very well as a public/private partnership. RBCAS is working toward education for the community and shelter personnel and volunteers. We are active in the community speaking with county elected officials, passing out information on shelter statistics, networking animals to find homes and educating the public about programs such as TNR. TNR, or Trap/Neuter/Return, is endorsed by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals — ASPCA — as "the most humane, effective and financially sustainable strategy for controlling free-roaming cat populations."

I'm spreading the word about the shelters because a lot of people still buy from breeders and don't think of rescue. I've recently been instrumental in reuniting dogs picked up by animal control as strays with their distraught families. I understand that I can't save all of them. But it's the happy endings that make my heart swell and make me and my fellow advocates keep going. We speak for the voiceless. The power of networking through social media is what is saving lives right now.


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