Did you know that an average of 2.7 million healthy and treatable pets are losing their lives in shelters each year? Sad, I know. But, did you know that approximately 17 million people will acquire a dog or cat within the next year? And for some good news - Shelter pet adoptions are on the rise, despite the ongoing recession and high rates of unemployment!
A common misconception about animals that end up in shelters is because they've been abused or done something "wrong". In fact, most animals are given to shelters because of "people reasons", not because of anything they've done. Things like a divorce, a move, lack of time or financial constraints are among the most common reasons why pets lose their homes. And some never had homes to begin with.
Why is adopting better than buying?
- The obvious - you SAVE a life! In fact, you will be saving two lives. (What? This girl doesn't know how to count does she?). Yes two. By adopting from a private humane society or animal shelter, breed rescue group, or even the local animal control agency (most overlooked), you'll save the pet you adopt and a homeless animal somewhere who can be rescued because of the space you helped free up.
- You'll get a healthy pet. Animal shelters and rescue groups are brimming with happy, healthy animals just waiting for someone to take them home. Most shelters examine and give vaccinations to animals when they arrive, they also may screen for specific temperaments and behaviors to make sure they will be a good fit with their new home.
- You'll save money! Sure, you'll pay an adoption fee, that's how these shelters keep going! But adopting is much less expensive than buying from a breeder or pet store. Plus, they are already spayed/neutered and vaccinated!
- You'll feel better. Who doesn't want to feel better with all the depressing news today! Pets have a special way of putting a smile on your face and a spring into your step. Not only do they give you unconditional love, but they have been proven to be psychologically, emotionally and physically beneficial for us humans (and sometimes we need all the help we can get!). Even when they do something bad, you just can't help not being mad (or at least for not too long) when they give you those puppy dog eyes and wag their tail at you, saying their sorry.
- You won't be supporting puppy mills and pet stores! Marketed as coming from great breeders, well-rehearsed sales tactics keep money flowing to the puppy mill. Most of the puppies have serious behavioral and healthy problems due to the cruel and abusive conditions they endure. By adopting instead of buying a pet, you can be certain you aren't supporting cruel puppy mills with your money.
First, do a search on the Internet and find the local shelters in your area. Once you have a list, here are some things you can do to help.
Volunteer. I know, we all lead busy lives, but could you spare an hour a week? These organizations are looking for any and all help. Looking to keep your New Year resolution of getting more exercise, losing weight, etc? Walk the dogs! These shelters need your help to take care of these babies. They need to be walked, fed, played with. They get exercise and you get exercise - win, win!
Donate! I know things are tight, but it doesn't have to always be money. Here is a common list of what most shelters are in need of: paper towels, towels and blankets (new or used), collars and leashes (can be gently used), dog beds - get your baby a new one, (hmmm, I wonder who sells eco friendly dog beds???) and donate the old one, treats, pet food, pet toys, bleach, trash bags and much more. Most shelters will have a "wish list" posted on their website. And for you coupon clippers - clip the pet supply coupons you don't usually use, buy something extra and donate it. You save money on supplies to donate ( and I just get a thrill out of using yet another coupon!) If you can afford to donate money, it is very much appreciated! These places need to pay the light bills, water bill, provide medical care, it's very expensive. Plus your monetary donation is tax deductible!
Foster. This is a tough one for me because I get so attached. But this is a great way of giving a dog a temporary home until they find their forever home. It also helps free up space at the shelter for more dogs to be rescued.
Join a Rescue Network and help spread the word! I have been working with a great group - Col. Potter Cairn Terrier Rescue Network. They have people all across the states working to save these adorable dogs. You can visit their website and learn more at www.cairnrescue.com. In fact, I am offering hand painted wine glasses of the Cairn on my website. For every glass sold, I will donate $1.00 back to Col. Potter (oh! Here is that shameless plug again - check them out at www.hipgreendogs.com). Which leads me to another suggestion. Do you shop on-line? A lot of rescue groups have affiliate pages that have vendors that will donate a percentage of your purchase if you shop through their link - and some big names too - Walmart, PetSmart, Drugstore.com, and many more. What could be more easy than doing your normal thing and helping at the same time?
So, here is my rescue story - nothing earth moving - but it is my story and I thought I would share. I lost my Golden, Asti, in a divorce (it was actually better for her to go with him although it completely broke my heart!). Sometime later, I found myself on my own, 5 months pregnant and buying my own house. I thought, gee now is the time for a dog! So I started looking on line at the dogs available for adoption. Wow, so many and I wanted to take them all! As I mentioned earlier, a lot of the time, the local "dog pound" or animal control is overlooked when it comes to adopting a dog. I happened on to the City of St. Louis' pound and saw this cute little black face looking at me and I just had to go check him out. I got there and was a bit appalled at the condition of this place. Not very clean, cages stacked up with dogs in them, I fought back the tears (good news is they are no longer in business and has been taken over by St.Louis Stray Rescue). I inquired about # A009088, the 4 month old, black lab mix I saw on the Internet. They took me too him. I fell in love with him instantly! He was not the typical shy, timid or scared dog at the shelter, but a bit wild (little did I know this was going to be an ongoing trait!). He went crazy when I talked to him and LOVED the attention. I paid my $45 dollars and had to wait for him to be neutered. After three long days, I excitedly picked him up from the vet's office after his procedure. I couldn't wait to take him home! He jumped all over the place, whined and cried, and peed in the back seat of my new car! Just the beginning of our adventure! Two months later and 7 months pregnant, Conner was a "bit" out of control and getting very big! I brought in a dog trainer and she said, Wow, you have your hands full with this one. After working with him, she became worried that he would not do well with the baby (he dragged the baby doll around by it's head!) and suggested that I give him up. I was heart broken. I cried non stop for several days at the idea of giving him up. Then a friend said to me the most simplest thing - Don't! And I didn't and that was the best decision I made. Turned out he was super great with my daughter Emma, and eventually he calmed down, although he still has a wild streak and he grew to be a very tall, 120 lb, handsome man! He is my best friend and loves to cuddle with his head in my lap. He melts my heart every time I look at him! And as you can see, his favorite spot is my couch!
My goal is to some day have a house full and of course a bigger house :-)
"There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face" - Ben Williams