Dear Editor,

My name is Jake and you’ve probably never met me or even heard of my plight. I am also willing to bet my next meal that many of you have never been to where my friends and I live.

The place I’m currently staying at with Barney, Gertrude, Shorty and about 180 others isn’t a four-star luxury hotel. It is only an older modest single-story facility.

It can be a bit cramped once in a while; sometimes there are more than four of us living in the same room at any given period of time. Some of my friends also live in an area with about 50 others. But I want to tell you we don’t complain because we’d rather be living here than defending ourselves on the streets of Mohave County and not knowing where our next meal is coming from. Yes, we all have a common unbreakable bond, and we affectingly call the place where we live our “group home.”

There are more group homes in Mohave County, and they are like a cornucopia abundantly full with unwanted and neglected residents of different nationalities. Gertrude’s relatives are originally from Europe, Barney is from South America and, of course, Shorty has no clue about his heritage. Some of Shorty’s friends have referred to him as the mutt in the next room.

Our group home isn’t the only one around. There are others in the surrounding area. As a matter of fact, we live in Golden Valley; there’s a couple in Kingman and, of course, others are located in Lake Havasu City and the outlying areas of Mohave County.

You probably wonder why so many of us live in such a small place. Well, the truth is most of us were neglected and abandoned, and some of my friends were even abused. That’s right, our family members became tired of us and didn’t want us around anymore, so they basically kicked us to the curb like yesterday’s trash.

Some of us ran away from our original homes because we felt our family members didn’t pay much attention to us. Many times, we were left outside to fend for ourselves on the streets and, sometimes, we didn’t even know where our next meal might come from.

During the monsoon season, it was almost unbearable for my friends and relatives who were living in the various group homes. The older evaporative coolers on the roofs didn’t properly operate and at times, the temperatures soared into the humid mid-to-high 90s inside our living quarters.

That’s right, life has been tough for us in the group homes, but I’m happy to say our prayers have been answered. We’re extremely excited that our quality of life is much better thanks to a few dedicated people.

The woman who runs our group home in Golden Valley has always strived to make us residents as comfortable as possible. She has continually dedicated herself to taking care of us, ensuring we have a clean, dry place to live and enough food so my friends and I have full stomachs. There isn’t anything worse than going to bed hungry.

Another thing she and the other group homes have done is make them accessible to people who might want to come and visit us. And what that means if we don’t receive exposure, we are destined to live in our group home for a very long time, if not forever. As all of you know, everyone deserves a home where they’re loved.

I must admit our names are not actually what I told you because I want to protect the innocent victims who have ended up here along with me.

If you haven’t figured it figured it out already, we are the four-legged residents at the animal shelters and the sanctuaries located in Mohave County. Barney, Gertrude, Shorty and I are the lucky ones because we reside at For the Luv of Paws Domestic Animal Rescue and Sanctuary in Golden Valley, where 60 dogs, 120 cats and two ferrets currently reside.

We are thankful for the dedicated humans, the volunteers and especially Cherie DaLynn and Debbie Betz, who run For the Luv of Paws where we live, and for the other group homes that take care of our relatives. Their devoted vision of making our quality of lives better during the period we wait for someone to adopt us is most appreciated.

Always remember dogs have masters and cats have staff, but besides them, some of the group homes have other species, such as chickens, turtles, ducks, birds, goats, pot belly pigs and horses – all available for adoption.

All I can say is if you have a void in your heart and want to fill it, please visit one of the group homes, animal shelters, rescues and sanctuaries. If you don’t know where they are, pick up the telephone directory to see what rescues and sanctuaries are listed, or surf the worldwide web on your computer.

There are plenty of us who would love to go home with a new family. Just think, Barney, Gertrude, Shorty, and the many other residents of the shelters, rescues and sanctuaries are waiting for you to visit.

We want to be loved, appreciated and part of your family.

Butch Meriwether