ATTN Animal Lovers: Professional Animal Rescuer Amanda Giese Shares Her Must-Know Pet Care Tips
The one thing that pooch-loving and animal rights-advocating Amanda Giese wants you to know is this:
"Kindness is cool. We live in a world where we have enough with the ugly. We have enough with the hate. We have enough battles and fighting. To me, kindness really is good... It’s way easier be kind than it is way when you are nasty."
And while it's easy to assume that Amanda might only be suggesting we be kind to our fellow humans, she definitely extends the sentiment to our four-legged companions who deserve the same amount of TLC and respect from us, too!
As the founder of US-based non-profit animal rescue Panda Paws, Amanda wishes to send the message that there is a very real need for animals—specifically dogs and cats, the most common pets people own—to be treated more fairly and compassionately.
For anyone who shares their home with a beloved pet, it might be difficult to imagine (or accept) a world, family or household being uncaring towards creatures as awesome as loyal dogs and loving cats, but that's simply the reality of things. There are, in fact, individuals who not only neglect their furry friends but for ungodly reasons, also subject them to forms of abuse and torture that would make any responsible pet owner's stomach churn.
It was a lesson she learned more than two decades ago when she insisted on rescuring an ailing kitten who everyone believed was a lost cause—including the vet that Amanda took her to. ("She was the size of a lemon, and was covered with fleas. She was anemic. She was sick. She was cold," Amanda recalls).
After nursing it back to health herself and watching it grow to become a healthy, rambunctious feline, an 11-year-old Amanda knew exactly what she would dedicate her life to.
Though Amanda initially had her eyes set on becoming a neo-natal surgeon, fate had other plans for her.
To date, she's rescued an estimate of four thousand animals ranging from cats, dogs, birds, and the occasional pig and chicken. Turning the passion into a full-fledged career, Amanda's work with Panda Paws includes rescuing and fostering, setting up adoptions, organizing volunteer initiatives, and giving animals the necessary medical care they need for a fresh start at life.
Most notably, she and her team were handpicked by Animal Planet to become the stars of a new program, Amanda to the Rescue, because of the wonderful job they've continued to do over the years. The show gives audiences around the world a glimpse of what it truly means to care selflessly for animals, the lessons the process teaches you, and the rewards reaped for dedicating one's time and effort to the cause.
Personally sharing how one can contribute to her life's work is Amanda herself. This model of altruism who took the time to visit the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) earlier this month shared helpful tips for pet owners as well as those considering to become fur parents in the future.
Keep in mind what she had to say to ensure your pets are as healthy and happy as they'll ever be when they're under your care.
Never skimp out on basic immunization
You would never allow your child to skip a vaccination that could be their best protection them from a life-threatening disease, so train yourself to feel the same way about your pet.
It's most basic form of care to extend to them, plus, should your pet be exposed to sickness in the future, a complete set of vaccines will be their first line of defense. (It'll also save you from spending a fortune on vet bills, should the time ever come, as you prepared beforehand).
Ask your vet about the vaccines your pets need and make sure to never miss appointments. (Also take note that baby animals—just like infants—need their vaccines the most. With immune systems still developing, they're the most susceptible to getting sick, and there really are very few things more painful than seeing a puppy or kitten in pain).
Adoption over purchase
As a rescuer, Amanda's heart beats its fastest when handicapped, formerly abused, abandoned, or overall special needs animals are taken home by a family as if they had no difficult past behind them. It's also because most shelters around the world end up euthanizing pets that never get adopted.
So many awesome cats and dogs are patiently waiting for their happily ever afters to come, yet only a handful of them are ever given theirs. If you happen to be looking for an addition to your fur family or bringing your first ever pet home, consider adopting over purchasing an animal from a breeder or pet store.
Set up a meeting with the PAWS team and they'll be happy to lead you in the right direction.
And if you do decide to adopt...
Don't be afraid to get to know the animal you bring home, or rather, do get to know it to ensure that it's a right match for you and your home and family. Nothing is more heartbreaking than having to return a dog or cat to a shelter because of finding out that it was too big, energetic, loud, or high-maintenance for you too late in the process.
PAWS actually sets up at least three meetings with a potential family before allowing them to take home an animal to make sure that doesn't happen.
As an extra tip, Amanda shares that novice pet owners in particular should set their eyes on taking home an adult animal as their temperament, for the most part, is "what you see is what you get." A puppy or kitten, upon reaching adulthood, might have a different personality from that that the teeny tiny furball you first brought home had. Adopting an adult animal eliminates that uncertainty.
Research, research, research
Doing your homework is crucial, regardless if you adopt or purchase a pet. This is especially true if you're eyeing a purebred dog known to have a set of traits, abilities, and needs.
Consider everything about your lifestyle: the amount of time you can dedicate to exercising it, the budget you can alott for its nutritional requirements, the space your home needs for your dog to be comfortable and non-destructive, and even the ages of your family members.
Just because you find a breed cute does not automatically make it the right breed for you. For example, a Siberian Husky may be a handsome dog, but will do very badly in a small apartment. An English Bulldog is definitely adorable, but isn't the type of dog for a family who expects their pets to accompany them on long outdoor walks.
Know the breed, and decide which one suits your lifestle best.
Spay and neuter
If you have no plans of breeding your animals or are not capable of caring for their offspring, Amanda strongly suggests to have them spayed and neutered. This helps in the following ways:
- You spare them from possibly developing reproductive health-related issues as they get older.
- You spare yourself from the burden of not knowing what to do with too many kittens or puppies at home. (It's a very expensive and time-intensive situation to be in, and many people who aren't ready for it yet find themselves having to deal with it often give up the unwanted animals, or worst of all, abandon them to die).
- You don't contribute to the Philippines' problem of dog and cat overpopulation. (Though this mostly applies to households who allow their animals to roam freely, Amanda acknowledges that there are instances when even indoor pets sometimes escape and mate with or get imprednated when outside).
Share and educate
Some could have already known to do the tips listed down here from the get-go, but others might not be as well-informed.
Be an animal rescuer's best friend by helping them do one of the most important things about their job: educate people. It's the first step to becoming a responsible pet owner and compassionate citizen of the world who has a heart for all living creatures, the foundation of pretty much everything it takes to be deserving of an animal friend to call your very own.
Don't be afraid to correct friends and family if you know better than them when it comes to proper pet care. Be patient, and they'll understand—maybe even thankful, too, for letting them know the ways they can be better fur parents!
Time and effort
Last but not least, all pet owners should think about volunteering at a local shelter at least once in their lives. Time is priceless in this case, Amanda emphasizes, and it's a resource that even the most dedicated animal lover finds very dfficult to give.
Volunteering is crucial as it helps shelters achieve their goal of caring for animals (i.e.: feeding them, bathing them, adminitering their medication, attending to guests, getting administrative tasks done) despite a lack of manpower. Many of them—including Panda Paws—depend on public donations to operate, and when combined with the problem of not having a complete staff to help run the show, things get a hundred times harder.
Even just a couple of hours a week make a huge difference, but if your schedule really can't give way to a personal visit, donations are most welcome.
Images from @whiskeyslurpee