Allow me to introduce myself. My name is “Homeless Dog.”

I was a stray before I was picked up and brought to the Independence Animal Shelter. I was scared when they put me in a room with a dozen other dogs, each of us in a separate run. The shelter staff brought food and water to me, which was great because I was really hungry! I saw another room just like the one I was in, which was also full of dogs. Someone called a “volunteer” saw how muddy and matted I was, and gave me a bath. I feel better now, but the cold, hard cement floor bothers my elbows and hip bones.

Across the hall I see cages and cages of cats, each of whom has almost the same name as I, “Homeless Cat.”

Some nice people walked through my room and spent some time with a cute furry dog. I was disappointed that they didn’t even take me out so I could show them what good manners I have and how smart I am.

“Homeless Dog’s” story is not unique. He is one of 2,780 dogs and 3,126 cats who have entered the shelter so far this year. Of these, 552 dogs and 280 cats have been transferred to other licensed shelter facilities.

Some animals are reunited with their human families. Others, 714 dogs and 695 cats, have been adopted. Anyone who has ever adopted a homeless pet knows how grateful they are to have a new home. However, 735 dogs and 2,054 cats were not so fortunate. They were euthanized (that means gone forever!).

The shelter staff works hard to provide care for these animals. But because of the shelter’s age, maintaining the animals and making the facility inviting are difficult. Several people volunteer at the shelter, cleaning cages and exercising dogs. But more volunteers are always needed.

A new animal shelter is desperately needed in Eastern Jackson County. Discussions are in progress between the city of Independence and the county. Features of the shelter would include adoption rooms where people and animals can get acquainted, better storage areas for food and supplies, specific use areas for grooming and educational activities, and an on-site clinic for increased spay/neuter procedures.

A group of concerned citizens has formed “Friends of the Animal Shelter.” The organization’s short-term goal is to assist the shelter to provide the best environment possible for the animals. Our long-term goal is to form a base of support throughout the county for the new shelter.

If you are interested in more information, please contact me at 816-478-9765 or at Tax deductible contributions may be mailed to Truman Heartland Community Foundation, 300 N. Osage St., Independence, MO 64050, designated for “Friends of the Animal Shelter.”