day, a legion of dedicated Southern Marylanders works to help the
homeless find a peaceful and loving place to live. They serve the
hundreds of unwanted and abused cats and dogs that filter through their
doorways each year to be paired with loving caretakers, one home at a
Ashley became homeless when the lady she lived with passed away. Rosie
was found wandering the streets and has had trouble regaining her spunk,
but she now has friends coaxing her back to health. Ellie Mae and her
sister, Daisy, have been together since birth and desperately want a
permanent home that will take them both.
Ashley, Rosie, Ellie Mae and Daisy - a domestic long hair cat, a Border
collie and Labrador retrievers - are typical of the animals rescued each
year by Southern Maryland's pet adoption agencies. Some are dropped off
by owners who can no longer care for them and some are strays saved from
Common visitors are pit bulls, beagles, Labradors and lots of kittens -
often abandoned or discovered in the wild. Many times people choose a
pet that is inappropriate for their family. Greyhounds, bulldogs, Border
collies, Jack Russell terriers and Dalmatians are appealing, but their
energy levels and space requirements can quickly strain a family.
Sometimes people move or develop allergies and the animals must be given
up. Sadly, even more are simply abandoned and left for dead.
On a typical Saturday afternoon, the Humane Society of Charles County
brims with couples, families with small children and volunteers
navigating the many cages and pens filled with cats, dogs, rabbits,
gerbils and even ferrets. The compound is clean and cheerful and filled
with potential pets eager to be chosen.
Cathy Inscore, assistant manager of the shelter, said the biggest
challenge is finding good homes for the many pets that come through each
year. She knows the story of each animal in her care, including the
husky that was too much for its owner, the 3-day-old kittens dropped off
anonymously and the happy-faced beagle mother and her four pups taken
from an overwhelmed breeder.
She took a few moments to reflect on her organization's 30-year history,
noting that volunteers are the heart of the organization. "Our
volunteers are truly a caring group," she said. "As a nonprofit, we
don't make a lot of money. All the people who work here do it because
they love their jobs and they want to make a difference."
Terry Walker, president of the Calvert Animal Welfare League, or CAWL,
agrees wholeheartedly. "CAWL would not be possible if it were not for
our dedicated, hard-working volunteers," she said. "They are compelled
to help the homeless, neglected and abused dogs and cats in Calvert
County and surrounding counties. They don't do it for thanks or
recognition; they are compassionate individuals who come together to not
only do what is good, but to do what is right."
For Walker and her counterparts at the St. Mary's Animal Welfare League
(SMAWL) and the Humane Societies of Calvert and Charles Counties, their
need and wish lists are long. "The two biggest challenges we face are
finding volunteers and finding money," Walker said. "We never have
enough of either."
In today's economy, most rescue organizations are experiencing an
increase in the number of drop-offs and strays. When people are forced
to leave their homes or have economic difficulties, pets are often
overlooked or left behind. "To most of the public, animals are
disposable," Walker said. "It's hard to justify dog food when you have
to buy school clothes."
But donations don't necessarily need to be cash. All local rescue
organizations maintain a list of supplies they need to care for and
comfort their animals. Help can be provided as easily as dropping off a
bag of cat litter or a box of cleaning supplies.
For Southern Maryland's animal champions, the hours are long, the money
is always scarce and it is easy to become frustrated by needs that never
seem to abate. But all of the workers agree that it is worthwhile when
an animal finds a loving new home.
"The satisfaction of doing this work comes from placing a cat or dog in
a place where everyone is happy," Walker said. "That's what we do and
what we love. We wouldn't have it any other way."
Pet rescue contacts:
What follows is a list of places in which you can rescue an animal,
volunteer your time or make a donation. We did our research and found
these organizaitons in Southern Maryland. If we have missed your
organization please let us know. If you are looking for a particular
breed that you can't find in these organzations, go to www.petfinder.com
and look under adopt a pet and search for the breed you would like to
Calvert Animal Welfare League
Freedom Hill Horse Rescue
Greyt Expectations Greyhound Rescue
Humane Society of Calvert County
Patuxent Animal Welfare League
Humane Society of Charles County
Throwaways' Rescue Foundation (Feral Cats)
St. Mary's County
Golden Retriever Rescue of Southern Maryland (Valley Lee)
Second Hope Rescue
Shetland Sheepdog Rescue Club of Southern Maryland
St. Mary's Animal Welfare League