A voice for the forgotten

When a dog is saved, be it from an open-intake animal control agency, or a less-than-desirable living situation, there isn’t always a happily-ever-after. Sometimes, more often than some would like to acknowledge or admit, these “saved” dogs are taken to a boarding facility and for all intents and purposes, forgotten.

A non-profit organization in the Houston, Texas, area strives to be a voice for the forgotten pets in the area. The Forgotten Pet Advocates, founded by Marlene Marino, came to fruition after Marino encountered a dog named “Faith,” back in 2010.

Marino explained how the meeting with Faith spurred her to action:

In 2010, I was volunteering  with several local animal rescue groups.  I heard about a dog named Faith who had been in a kennel for over 7 years waiting for a home, I went to meet her right away.  Her best friend was another abandoned dog named Robin and she had been in the same kennel for over 5 years.  It broke my heart knowing most of their life was a cage.

Ultimately, Faith and her friend, Robin, found their forever home with Marino, but it was the words from the kennel owner which made an impact. She stated, “She expressed her gratitude, but anguish and heartache for over 30 other abandoned animals at her kennel.  These animals consisted of owner abandonment,  non-paying rescues, and strays found or dumped there.  It was then that I realized these, and countless other, forgotten pets in kennels and vet offices, needed an advocate.”

Marino went to work to design a program to help these forgotten pets find their way out of a kennel situation and into a home. She described the attributes of the program, “I designed program to vet the animals, photograph and network them, socialize and/or train them if necessary, process applicants for a good match and perform home visits prior to the delivery to their new families. For many still in kennels, we provide special crates (if needed) , heartworm meds, Kuranda beds, toys, treats and anything else to make them comfortable.”

Sadly, many people think that dogs living in a kennel are “okay,” but that is not the case. Though the basic needs of food, shelter and water may be met, the missing elements of love and companionship are missing. As Marino reminded, “a kennel is designed to be temporary.”

The Forgotten Pet Advocates is run by volunteers – some who work on a part-time basis, along with others who are part of a more dedicated, active core. Marino outlined the organization’s goals, “Our long term goal is to grow our volunteer base, expand awareness, increase visibility of as many forgotten pets as possible, and perhaps create additional chapters of our organization in other areas as this is a nationwide problem.

Marino offered some words of advice and encouragement for people who want to help needy, homeless pets in their own area:

An individual who may wish to make a difference can do so many things. You can visit and help at kennels or vet offices for the abandoned animals. You can volunteer at adoption and fundraising events for rescue groups. You can foster a pet until their forever home is found. You can utilize social media to feature pets in urgent situations, with details of location, the animal’s story, and always a point of contact. Basically these animals are at our mercy. If you witness an abuse or neglectful situation for an animal, speak up, find help, act! Stand up for what is right! These living, breathing helpless creatures are usually victims of human choices or circumstances and have no control of their destiny which can be cruel and heartless. If you choose to have a pet, realize it is a lifelong commitment, regardless of what life may throw at you.

Marino and her organization are working to help dogs like Cookie, a dog who was picked up by a Good Samaritan who found her wandering on a busy road. When Cookie was found, she was dragging a chain and had a deeply embedded collar around her neck. Cookie was rescued years ago, and still, she waits at a kennel facility, for a family of her own.

Interested in learning more about Cookie?  Email:  forgottenpetadvocates@yahoo.com to learn more

Find the Forgotten Pet Advocates on Facebook here. Find the Forgotten Pet Advocates’ website here.

Penny Eims

Penny is a freelance writer who provided content to her National Dog News column at Examiner.com for 8 years. She is a current contributor to Fido Friendly Magazine, as well as a newly formed website, Pet Rescue Report. Penny is married and she has two rescued German shepherds and two kids.