Perhaps I am wrong, but lately it seems like there are more dogs and cats roaming the streets and suffering in overcrowded shelters than in past years, and I find the whole trend rather disturbing.

As a dog lover, it saddens me to see a dog wandering the streets; especially during the cold winter months.

My kids and I have often tried to catch stray pups and reunite them with their owners, or tried to get them to the police station or to a shelter.

There was one home on my street, from which the dog jumped out of the yard and wandered around town all of the time. I almost hit him with my car once.

When I mentioned it to the owner I was told that he "escapes every day." She was so casual about it and I left with such a feeling of despair.

I don't see that dog anymore. There is a different one in the yard now.

When I see stray dogs end up at a shelter and no one ever comes to claim them, it makes me wonder; do these people really care about their pets?

I know that times are tough right now and I can't help but think that for some people, it is easier to just open up the door and let the dog or cat out to fend for themselves rather than trying to find a way or another person to properly take care of the animal.

Then there is the issue of spaying and neutering, which unfortunately, many people do not believe in or think they cannot afford to do.

Over the summer I walked into the cat shelter at the Carbon County Friends of Animals in Jim Thorpe. The sheer number of cats that were housed there brought me to tears.

I also visited the Carbon County Animal Shelter to check out the dogs. To see their little faces pressed up against their cages, and their pleading eyes, just broke my heart.

Some looked depressed and scared while others were up on their hind legs wagging their tails, wanting so desperately to be touched and taken home.

As sad as it was to see those poor creatures cooped up at the shelters, the love and dedication of the volunteer workers at both places was awe-inspiring and it renewed my faith in the human race.

Being the Facebook junkie that I am, I see the daily notifications from the local shelters as well as some of the lost and found pet pages. It is here that I get to see the hearts of true animal lovers.

People who are most often strangers, come together to try to find a missing pet or to reunite a found one with its owners. They also offer support, encouragement and even prayers for frantic pet owners who are desperate to get their beloved pet home immediately.

Several times I have seen a pet make its way back home, thanks to these Facebook pages.

I have also seen total strangers take to the streets to try to help locate a missing animal. These people are angels in my book and I am glad to know that they are out there, on the lookout and ready to help should my furry child ever manage to escape.

These are, no doubt, the same people who adopted their own furry children from a shelter or picked them up off the street and brought them into their home where they became part of the family.

And to the folks who foster strays: I salute you.

To care for an animal who is typically sick or injured or has behavior issues that need to be addressed, and then nurse them back to health and teach them how to be good companions, only to have to say goodbye when they go to their forever home, is an act of pure, unselfish love.

The compassion and concern that I see expressed by volunteers at our local shelters and on the aforementioned Facebook pages by residents of Carbon and Schuylkill counties is truly incredible.

It is my hope that more people will join in the fight to get these animals off the streets and out of the shelters and into safe, loving and permanent homes.

I have faith in you, readers.