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How ’bout a Hotline?

By Jasmin Singer — December 27, 2010

The stray/abandoned dog and cat issue is, obviously, a Herculean one. That millions of animals are killed each year for no good reason is tragic, especially when so many ignorant people are buying dogs and cats from breeders and pet stores. Puppy mills, where the vast majority of dogs at pet stores come from, are nothing short of filthy factories. “Breeding dogs” are left to live in tiny cages for their entire lives, not unlike the atrocity of hens in battery cages.

Thankfully, groups like Pets for Life NYC are out there, working with companion animal guardians to solve the problem of abandoned pets. In addition to offering free and low-cost services (to those who are eligible) such as behavior training, guidance for pet-related landlord-tenant issues, and spay/neuter options, Pets for Life NYC has something that I think is just dandy: a hotline.

The hotline at Pets for Life NYC provides a place to call to discuss everything from the issues mentioned above, to advice for dealing with the stray you just found, to how to introduce a new animal to your current animals.

According to a volunteer for Pets for Life NYC, they are currently in need of hotline volunteers and foster parents. “It is a wonderful avenue for activism and education in a one-on-one way,” she told me. “Given the large overpopulation of homeless animals, keeping companion animals with their families is more important than ever. And the cases touch on all kinds of other issues as well: helping people in domestic violence situations, dealing with BSL [breed specific legislation] and public housing, educating on spay-neuter and trap/neuter/return, etc.” (To get involved as a volunteer for Pets for Life NYC, contact their co-director, Jenny Olsen, at jolsen[at], and if you’re in NYC, also be sure to check out their upcoming fundraiser, Paws for a Cause.)

The vitally important role played by the Pets for Life NYC hotline is a reminder that a hotline is something that animal groups — and individual animal activists — can provide for their communities for virtually (or totally) no cost. You can either choose to focus on something similar, such as offering guidance and coaching to individuals who think they may have to give up their animal, or you can choose to start a hotline for… just about anything pertaining to animals.

How about:

  • tips on vegan cooking
  • resources for handling injured wildlife
  • how to have a vegan holiday meal
  • how to survive the holidays as a vegan
  • great vegan restaurants in [insert city here]
  • dog training tips
  • vegan dog food recommendations
  • just about anything else you’re passionate about pertaining to animals…

Those are just a few ideas off the top of my head. The sky is really the limit with the resources you can offer through having your own hotline. For the sake of your privacy, you can choose to have a separate, dedicated line — Skype is one resource for a cheap Internet phone number. You can even print out business cards (VistaPrint is good) and leave them at appropriate locations, like veg restaurants, health food stores, pet stores, vet offices…

After all, who doesn’t like to give other people advice? When it comes to helping animals, that kind of input can very possibly save some lives.

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