Compassionately Dealing with the Issue of Pet Abandonment.

Note: Please click on the photos to enlarge and clarify them.

People abandon their pets for a number of reasons and Oakland is not immune to this problem. Sometimes people abandon a pet because they lost their job or their home and they aren’t able to find someone to take their pet in. Other times, a pet may be sick or injured and the pet owner may abandon it because he/she thinks the medical fees will be exhorbitant.

Whatever the reason, people are leaving pets in public places, hoping that someone will find them and take care of them. If they aren’t found, the pets become strays and they learn how to survive on the streets of Oakland or die.

One hot spot for abandoning animals has been the vacant Pak ‘n Save at Coliseum Center, near the O.co Coliseum. It’s part of the urban blight in that part of Oakland that has become an illegal dumping ground and graffiti target. Ironically, the Oakland facilities of the East Bay SPCA are located just behind the vacant Pak ‘n Save.

As an owner of a pound puppy, two pound cats, and a formerly feral cat, the issue of pet abandonment is near and dear to me. Since I can’t personally take in every abandoned and stray animal that crosses my path (or my wife will abandon me!), we need to work together to find larger-scale solutions.

One interesting solution I recently became aware of is being tried in Istanbul, Turkey where an estimated 150,000 stray animals try to survive and where local residents do what they can to help, often building elaborate temporary shelters for the strays that live outside their homes (I once suggested that ‘Istanbul’ was Turkish for ‘City of Cats’ — I’m guessing I wasn’t the first to do so).

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A Turkish company called Pugedon has introduced around Istanbul, a number of vending machines that dispense pet food and water when someone inserts recycled bottles. This novel concept increases recycling efforts while providing a means of sustenance for the local animal population and raising public awareness of their plight — a plight, I might add, that we humans created by abandoning the pets in the first place. And because many of the pets weren’t spayed or neutered before being abandoned, the stray population just keeps growing, making the problem ever more difficult to control.

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These innovative vending machines are not seen as a long-term solution, but they are meant to improve the environment, provide some immediate relief for the animals, and urge concerned citizens to work with their government leaders to find long-term solutions.

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Oakland residents should likewise work with our elected officials to find humane, long-term solutions to the problem of pet abandonment and strays.

In the mean time, the best thing to do, if you have a pet you can no longer take care of and cannot find an alternative home for, is to bring your pet to the local East Bay SPCA (8323 Baldwin St, Oakland). They will provide care for your pet while they try to get it adopted by another family. By contacting the East Bay SPCA, you may even learn that there are relatively inexpensive veterinary services available, should your pet be sick or injured.

And for those of us who care about this problem, but, thankfully, aren’t confronted with a situation in which we must consider the horrible decision to abandon a pet, donations to the East Bay SPCA will be immensely helpful. If you’re interested, you can donate via the following website: https://www.eastbayspca.org/ I just did and I encourage you to do the same. Even a small donation helps. Or better yet, give an abandoned pet a good home. Here’s Possum, our latest ‘pound pet.’

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Keeping Oakland Beautiful is everybody’s business.

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