Ten thousand points of light represents the number of animal welfare organizations that post their homeless pets on Petfinder.com, the online database of homeless pets. National Volunteer Week which began April 15 and ends April 21, 2007, is an appropriate time to recognize these organizations and the tens of thousands of volunteers who work within them.
In the 1830s, the Frenchman, Alexis de Tocqueville, noticed Americans' willingness to get involved in a cause greater than themselves. It defined the American character, and it's still true today. According to a government survey, more than 61 million Americans donated their time to charity in 2006.
Nowhere is it more evident than in animal welfare
"I can't say enough about the altruism of these volunteers," said Betsy Saul, cofounder of Petfinder.com, the online database of homeless pets. "They go way beyond what anyone would expect in terms of giving of themselves. For most of them it's not a once a week job-it's a 24/7 commitment. They are a largely unsung group of heroes."
According to social activist, John Gardner, "almost every major social breakthrough in America has originated in this voluntary sector," and Saul believes that the impact of volunteers on animal welfare is changing its face today. "We have seen an explosion of rescue groups since we began Petfinder.com in 1996," Saul said, "and we believe the work of these volunteers has had a positive impact on decreasing the euthanasia rate in this country."
To encourage volunteerism, Petfinder.com has a volunteer database where visitors to the Web site may register to help their local animal welfare organizations. "A person can specify what kind of tasks they would like to do-be it cleaning cages, walking pets or helping add homeless pets to the Petfinder database," Saul said. "Most organizations could really use the help. Not only are animal welfare groups unsung, they are often underfunded."
Anyone interested in volunteering can visit http://www.petfinder.com to sign up.