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Adopting a pet from a shelter is a win-win-win, and the need is greater than ever
Best Friends
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Peach was just a kitten when Chris Henderson fell head over heels for her. He had recently moved from Scotland to Houston, and the whole city was under quarantine due to the coronavirus pandemic. Chris was waiting for his fiancé Emma's visa to come through so she could join him, and he was feeling a bit lonely. He thought perhaps a pet might help with that. When he found Peach on Best Friends Animal Society's website, he was struck by her.

"There was just something unusual about her coat, and she looked pretty adorable," Chris said.

Best Friends

A few days later, he met Peach at her foster home and the rest, as they say, is history. After he adopted her, he was grateful to have learned about the kitten's habits from her foster mom.

"Peach uses her voice a lot when she wants something," Chris said. "It would have worried me, as it was different to the cats I had growing up. But knowing that was just her nature really put my mind at ease."


Emma met Peach via video chat and was instantly smitten. Once Emma arrived in the U.S., the couple adopted another kitten from Best Friends—a little black and white sister for Peach named Lyra.

"Adopting her was the best decision I made during the pandemic by a large margin," Chris says.

Best Friends

Chris and Emma weren't the only ones who turned to pets for comfort and companionship when the pandemic hit. A record number of pets found temporary or forever homes in 2020. In fact, some animal shelters saw their kennels cleared out for the first time ever as people sought pets to keep them company.

However, pandemic pet adoptions have waned as people have started to come out of isolation and return to work. According to Best Friends, pet adoptions are down 3.7% overall this year. Meanwhile, the number of animals coming into shelters in June was up 5.9% compared to 2020. Despite rumors of hordes of people returning their "pandemic pets", the data doesn't actually show that trend; however, shelters are struggling with too many pets in need and not enough homes to help them.

Adding to the crisis, shelters are experiencing the same employee shortage affecting many industries nationwide. A survey of more than 150 shelters and animal organizations conducted by Best Friends found that 88% are short on staff, 57% have cut hours or programs due to short staffing, and 41% are down more than 25% of normal staff levels. This, of course, puts more stress on those who are still working in shelters.

"I've said it many times before, but now more than ever, we need the public to adopt or foster," says Julie Castle, CEO of Best Friends Animal Society, a national animal welfare organization dedicated to saving dogs and cats in shelters around the country and helping families to keep pets in homes.

"If you have been considering getting a new pet, now is the time. The public stepped up during the pandemic, and we need to do it again because countless animals' lives are at stake if this progress backslides."

Adopting or fostering from shelters genuinely does save lives. When animals outnumber people willing to take them in and the cost of caring for the animals outweighs available resources, animals unfortunately end up being euthanized. Thanks to advocates like Best Friends, the U.S. has gone from killing 17 million animals per year to about 347,000, which is great, but we need to remember that each one of those numbers is a life lost. Best Friends is dedicated to making the U.S. an entirely no-kill nation by 2025—an ambitious goal, but one that is within reach if more people choose pet adoption.

Best Friends

People who love animals but don't want to commit to lifelong care can foster, which frees up space in shelters, gives animals a temporary loving home until they are adopted, and helps get animals socialized with humans.

Fostering can also be a first step. Alix Walburn had only been a foster mom to a sweet dog named Giddy for about a week when she realized she didn't want anyone else to adopt her. Giddy had heartworm disease, and the plan was for Alix to foster her just during her course of medication. As it turned out, Giddy snuck right into Alix's heart with her cute face, loving eyes, and cuddly, playful personality.

"She will just curl up next to you, or put her little head on your lap," says Walburn. "No matter where you are, she just instantly melts into your hands."

Foster-Win! Heartworm positive dog gets adopted by amazing fosterwww.youtube.com

"Shelters, and the animals in them, need our help in a big way," Castle says. "Pets have been a part of our lives long before the pandemic, and we want to work with families to help them find their best friend while also saving a life."

Not everyone is in a position to adopt or foster animals, of course. But you can still help animals by donating or volunteering with your local shelter. You can also support the Best Friends mission of making the U.S. a no-kill nation by 2025 by checking out the Pet Lifesaving Dashboard to see where your community ranks. (Shelters with a 90% save rate are considered no-kill shelters, since some animals arrive at shelters too injured or sick to save. So far, just two states have achieved no-kill status, so there's work to be done.)

Adopting or fostering a pet from a shelter is a win-win-win choice—the animal gets a loving home, the shelter gets space freed up to help more animals, and you get a new friend to love and enjoy. If you've been thinking of adding a cat or dog or some other pet to your life, now is the time. Go to bestfriends.org to learn more about how to adopt or foster a pet.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Democracy

Appalachian mom's speech on Kentucky's proposed abortion ban is a must-hear for everyone

Danielle Kirk is speaking up for those often overlooked in our cultural debates.

Canva, courtesy of Danielle Kirk

Appalachian mom gives passionate speech.

Many people felt a gut punch when the Supreme Court issued its decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned the decades-old Roe v. Wade decision that protected a woman's right to an abortion. However, for some this was a call to action.

Danielle Kirk, 27, a mom of two and an activist on TikTok, used her voice in an attempt to educate the people that make decisions in her small town. Kirk lives in Kentucky where a trigger law came into effect immediately after Roe v. Wade was overturned. Being a former foster child, she knew she had to say something. Kirk spoke exclusively with Upworthy about why she decided to speak up.

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Memories of childhood get lodged in the brain, emerging when you least expect.

There are certain pleasurable sights, smells, sounds and tastes that fade into the rear-view mirror as we grow from being children to adults. But on a rare occasion, we’ll come across them again and it's like a portion of our brain that’s been hidden for years expresses itself, creating a huge jolt of joy.

It’s wonderful to experience this type of nostalgia but it often leaves a bittersweet feeling because we know there are countless more sensations that may never come into our consciousness again.

Nostalgia is fleeting and that's a good thing because it’s best not to live in the past. But it does remind us that the wonderful feeling of freedom, creativity and fun from our childhood can still be experienced as we age.

A Reddit user by the name of agentMICHAELscarnTLM posed a question to the online forum that dredged up countless memories and experiences that many had long forgotten. He asked a simple question, “What’s something you can bring up right now to unlock some childhood nostalgia for the rest of us?”

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