For thousands of years, dogs have been our best friends, our protectors, and often our personal heroes. That is why each October, since 1981, American Humane has encouraged animal lovers to repay the favor by adopting a dog from a local shelter or rescue group during our annual “Adopt-a-Dog Month®.” It’s that time of year again, and today, we call on you to be a hero for a dog in need.
An estimated three to four million dogs sadly wait in shelters every year for the loving, forever homes that they deserve. And each year, approximately 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized because they have no family to take them in. In 2016 alone, 56% of dogs in U.S. animal shelters were euthanized. These tragic statistics portray why the need to adopt is so great. And this year, during the coronavirus crisis, it is even more vital that we spread the word as people struggling financially have been forced to relinquish their beloved pets and many shelters, particularly in rural areas, are extremely overpopulated.
If you are able, be a hero this month and adopt a dog in need of a home. You’ll be saving his or her life while also greatly improving your own as dogs are loyal, loving and supportive companions. As many of us remain isolated during these strange times, working from home and counting down the days until the world returns to normal, a happy canine companion could be just the thing you need to lift your spirits.
Whether you’re adopting your first dog or bringing home yet another to add to your family, American Humane wants to ensure you’re prepared for the energetic – and sometimes messy – life with your new best friend. We provide resources on our website to help you with the transition. And if you’re not currently able to adopt a dog, there are other ways you can make a difference.
Here are a variety of ways to celebrate Adopt-a-Dog Month®:
Adopt from a shelter or rescue group
When you’re ready to open your heart and home to a new best friend, adopt from your local animal shelter or rescue group. Talk with shelter staff to find the perfect dog for you and your lifestyle, and remember that older dogs make excellent pets, too.
Spay or neuter your dog
Have your dog spayed or neutered, thus preventing the possibility of unexpected, and potentially unwanted, puppies. Spayed and neutered animals have been shown to lead longer, healthier lives and have fewer of certain behavioral problems than animals who have not been spayed or neutered.
ID your pet
By putting identification on your dog, either in the form of a tag, a microchip or both, you will reduce the possibility that your pet will become one of the presumably “homeless” dogs that end up at your local shelter. Only 15-20 percent of dogs who enter a shelter are reunited with their owners. Make sure your dog is one of the fortunate few by outfitting him with proper identification!
Support your local shelter
Show the pets at your local shelter or rescue group that you care by donating time, money or supplies like pet food, leashes, beds and toys. Call the shelter to see what supplies or services are needed most. Even the smallest effort can make a difference.
Consider adopting an older dog
There is a great need to provide safe, loving homes for the thousands of older pets who often face the highest risk in animal shelters. Many potential pet adopters overlook older animals — but there are so many reasons why dogs over the age of 6 or 7 make ideal furry family members and friends: They tend to be less rambunctious than younger dogs; they’re often already house-trained; they’re a great fit for people with busy lifestyles; they’re so grateful for a second chance and will give you lots of love and thanks.