Sunday, November 21, 2010

'Tis The Season

The holidays are upon us. My mailbox is loaded with brightly colored catalogs (not just Cabela's) and of course the inevitable charity mailers looking for donations. They include a "free gift"-usually mailing labels, and the picture on the front page, in all the gory detail, is of an abused animal with sad looking eyes. Since we can't do a hands on rescue, we feel the need to send them a check to help out.
Here's the problem: very little of that check we send actually goes to the animal. Maybe 3 cents on the dollar, if that.
Those mailers, especially with color pictures cost at least $30,000 to print up and mail out, and the price goes up with how much crap is included in the envelope. By the time the costs are paid, the administrative staff gets their checks, the actual animal only gets about 3 cents of every dollar donated. The law states that it must be disclosed in the mailing, and you'll find it, in very tiny print only a fly can read, buried at the bottom of the back page of the mailer. Most people can't get past the pictures and the large bold print horror story, which is what they are counting on.
If the horse rescue I help out had that kind of money to spend on mailers, all of the residents would look like centerfolds for Horse Illustrated. If most local legitimate animal rescues had that kind of money, there wouldn't be wish lists for any of them. Hell, a banner year for us was having enough to send thank you cards to donors during the holidays.
While certain "big box" rescues do get a ton of media recognition and billions of dollars in donations, there are thousands of "mom and pop" (usually mom) that do help more animals than most of these combined. Particularly high on my shit list is the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). You can find more information about them, and their affiliate companies  here and here (pdf)
I plan on doing some future blog posts about rescues and donations, including choosing who to help and other non cash donation ways of helping. Rescues are needy all year long, so if you are stretched thin by the season of giving, it's okay to wait. Toss those mailers in the trash without reading them (or grab the free return address labels) and find a way to give where the animals actually get the full benefit of what you're giving. Whether you're moved by the plight of the wild mustangs or wish to help unwed cats, you can give where it's most beneficial.


  1. Funny you did a post about this. I was talking with my parents over the weekend about what they wanted for Christmas. They are getting to that age where they don't really need anything.

    My mom actually said she would prefer if we bought dog or cat food that she could take down to the local shelter. Or even make a donation directly to the local shelter.

    Sounds like we are going to be doing some donating locally this year!

  2. I've been wanting to post about this for awhile and decided to wait until most of us really get hit with the mailings.
    I'm a big fan of donating locally, and buying food is excellent, since it's the biggest expense most rescues have. Full tummies for the holidays is a wonderful gift!

  3. You are so right - I got my two rabbits from a rescue about an hour away from me, and they are in desperate need of funds. Cats and dogs get all the attention, but rabbits are the third most euthanized animals in shelters.

    The rescue takes in pretty much anything people bring to them, and some of these stories - ugh. You should see what they transport them in. My two babies are from a pre-Easter auction. Find the rescue on Facebook - My Hope's in You Small Animal Rescue.

  4. Yes, the little critters are the most often overlooked when it comes to donations. It's also hard to find vets to spay or neuter them. I get several calls a week and have nobody to refer them to. We do the basic vetting on them, but not any surgeries.
    If you can, please email me with a wish list from them and I can post it.

  5. Not sure if they have a wish list, but I know they're always looking for Purina rabbit pellets (timothy) and timothy hay. And money - they're now trying to fix rabbits before adoption.

    As for finding rabbits vets - it is harder, because of their "exotic" classification. Have you seen the House Rabbit Society's site on rabbit vets? Usually there's someone nearby.

  6. Thanks for the link. As I suspected, there isn't any rabbit vets in the area where I work. They're incredibly hard to anesthetize, which is why we don't do surgeries on them. Thanks for the feed recommendation as well.