Sunday, October 5, 2008

October is Adopt a Dog Month

October is Adopt a Dog Month and I encourage anyone that can open their home and heart to a homeless dog, to do so.

10 million dogs enter the shelter system each year and about 4 million are killed each year because there aren't enough homes for all of them. People choosing to not spay and neuter their pets, people adopting thru puppy mills and breeders and people who choose to buy from a pet store are to blame.

There are also many people who choose to surrender their pets or dump them when they become too much to handle. Dogs need training but training isn't that difficult and there are many resources available to help. You can sign up for a local obedience class, buy books or videos on dog training, even scour the internet.

Three of my four pets were rescued - the fourth, our cat, Bella was found as a stray at my husbands place of employment. I found both of our dogs thru and our other cat, Pete came from our county kill shelter. Ike, Sam and Bella were all very young when we adopted them but Pete was about 8 months old and well beyond the desired kitten stage so his days were numbered. He's been a perfect cat. Not one day of trouble.

Shelters are full of purebreds but even more fun, they are filled with mixed breeds, which means you can have a unique dog that doesn't look like anyone elses! If you have your heart set on a specific breed, you can search the internet for breed specific rescues. Don't use the excuse that you have to go to a breeder for a 'purebred'.

Don't fall victim to the breeder or pet store. Pet stores get their puppies from puppy mills.

When you adopt a pet from a shelter, you are actually saving more than one life. You save the life if the pet you take home but you also save another life by freeing up space in that no-kill shelter for another dog to be brought in. Many kill shelters have a waiting period for each animal - once that time is up they will be euthanized if they aren't adopted or rescued and placed into a no-kill shelter system.

Rescued pets are healthier and they have all their medical stuff taken care of - they are already fixed, microchipped, vaccinated and treated for things like worms and fleas. We paid about $200 each for our dogs and $90 for Pete... but since we found Bella we had to pay for everything for her and it was close to $500. $200 from a shelter is a DEAL!

If you are a busy person and can't commit to raising a puppy, consider an older dog.

'Older' can mean any dog over a year old! They are housetrained, crate trained, usually know basic commands and many are much calmer than a puppy. They can become a part of your family quickly and be your very best friend! Many dogs in the shelter system have been evaluated for behavior problems, fostered in actual homes and tested to see how they get along with other pets and children.

If you can't open your home to a pet, consider donating your time or money towards a shelter. I regularly donate dog toys to shelters since many shelters don't have enough income to buy 'luxuries' like toys, rawhide and treats. There are actually dogs in the system that have to be taught how to play with toys and that is a tragic fact.

I also sign up for free bags and cans of various foods and coupons thru pet food companies. My pets eat special food but when I get coupons for other brands, I pick them up and donate them.

Shelters can use old blankets, cleaning supplies, stamps and more.

Many shelters have 'wish lists' on their websites.

You could also donate unused computers, cellphones, and vehicles.

Many shelters welcome volunteers. You can stop by and take the dogs for a walk, play with the cats or pitch in to help clean kennels. You could also sign up to foster dogs.

Here are a variety of links I'd love for you to check out:

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