"Because I want to take care of it, and feed it, and play with it, and we will be best friends," exclaimed my little nephew when asked why he wanted a hamster so bad.
Pets can play an important role in a family. They can lighten a mom's mood with just a happy bark. They can give comfort to a dad after a hard day's work by just laying by his feet. They can offer companionship to a kid looking for a friend.
Sadly, due to the current economic situation, families all over the country are suffering financially and finding it harder and harder to keep their four-legged friends.
"Because of the economy, people are giving up their pets to shelters and it's just a tragedy for the pets. It's a tragedy as well for the family, just because they don't want to give up their pets. It's really sad how the economy has affected the pet population, it just overcrowded the animal shelters," Washington Freedom and U.S. Women's National Team defender Cat Whitehill observes.
On Thanksgiving Day, one organization supplied food for pets of 180 families.
The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Wake County (SPCA) is an organization in North Carolina that shelters animals, promotes their adoption, and educates people about responsible pet ownership.
One of the programs that the SPCA has is Pet Food Pantry , which gives temporary assistance to pet owners who are unable to provide food for their pets due to financial problems. The amount of pet food provided to a family is enough to last a whole month.
“For many families, a month’s supply of pet food can mean the difference between keeping their pet or having to leave their pet at an animal shelter,” says SPCA spokeswoman Mondy Lamb. “And for many pets, staying in their home and out of an animal shelter can mean the difference between life and death.”
The cost to feed a cat or a small dog for a month is $10. "Just by giving that much...one family gets to keep their dog for one more month," adds Whitehill.
Through the Global Giving site, donations can even be as low as $5.
Whitehill, an animal lover and pet owner, became connected with the SPCA through Athletes for Hope, an organization that connects athletes with charities. They recently started a campaign with an online debate answering the question, "Are professional athletes obligated to give back?"
Answers Whitehill, "I think athletes are obligated because I think all people should be obligated. That's kinda how I look at it. We want everybody to give back in some way whether it's giving back through time or giving back your money."
"I think when you can do that, you show the value of thinking outside of your own realm and thinking outside of yourself. 'Cause I think that's what giving back is all about, it's thinking of others. And that's a great way to live life."
Selflessness is just a few clicks away. To help financially-challenged families keep their four-legged friends, donate here .