Why Not in Laguna?

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Our guest columnist says we can do more to encourage pet adoption in Laguna Beach. – By Blythe Wheaton

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IMG_0184Laguna Beach is an animal-friendly and proud community that has been a trailblazer in the arena of providing opportunity and open space for pets and people. However, more could be done for homeless animals in Laguna Beach and Orange County, and we are falling behind in our efforts to be trailblazers on behalf of rescued pets.

We are fortunate that OC has a handful of no-kill shelters (which means that the shelter does not euthanize due to overcrowding). Animal shelters are city-funded, and can only provide for animals with the resources they are given. To offset overcrowding and underfunding in these difficult financial times, shelters have gotten creative—to reach the public at additional venues, to provide education on a broad scope and to raise funds. Irvine Animal Care Center has had incredible success with its two annual events, Home for the Holidays and the Super Adoption. San Clemente has partnered with its supporting nonprofit, the Pet Project Foundation, to put on an annual Wag-A-Thon. Mission Viejo has partnered with a nonprofit to host an annual DAWG Walk that raises funds for their shelter.

As an animal advocate, I’m confident we all have the same goals for animals in shelters—for them to find a family. I propose we do just a little more to bring Laguna Beach back into the fold with our peers, and do all we can to increase pet adoption.

My proposal is twofold: We need to allow and encourage a bigger rescue presence in Laguna by allowing rescues to stroll the streets without paying a fee, storefront adoption meet-and-greets, and a rotating presence at the farmers market. Additionally, the Laguna Beach Animal Shelter could host its First Annual Adoption event at the Laguna Beach Dog Park, creating a city-sponsored community rally, vendor and rescue-friendly adoption event benefiting the animal shelter.

All proceeds would help the shelter meet its annual needs. The long-term success of this event and increased rescue presence in our city will have positive ramifications, including increased awareness, more adoptions and a new sense that we can make an animal’s life better as a city.

Why do I feel we need to do more as a community? Simply living in a town with a no-kill shelter doesn’t relieve residents of the responsibility to help at-risk animals. We are not far enough ahead in the battle to save healthy, loving dogs and cats from destruction. Now is not the time to get comfortable—now is the time to get active, volunteering with a leash in our hand.

It’s dangerous to assume that people will do the right thing and adopt. No matter how easy we make it, how sad the ASPCA commercials are, or how alarming the statistics (4 million dogs and cats are euthanized in U.S. shelters each year), people will find a reason to go to a pet store or breeder.

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Why not in Laguna Beach? Lets take the examples we have seen succeed and lend our community’s hand to get adoption numbers up at the local shelter and allow rescues across Orange County to bring rescue events to our town. LBM

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