One of the most well-known national animal sanctuaries, Best Friends Animal Society, located in southeastern Utah, is about a 13-hour drive from where I live in Wyoming. I have visited twice and volunteered once. What an amazing place!
For many years, Best Friends has been on the frontlines of the “No-Kill” movement, a vision of seeing that no healthy, adoptable animal is euthanized in America’s shelters. Recently, the non-profit organization turned up the volume, and the heat, to make no-kill a reality by 2025. Staff and volunteers believe that achievement is possible.
The main Best Friends sanctuary is located outside of the small town of Kanab, Utah, which itself is located within 20 miles of the Arizona border is southeastern Utah. The beautiful red sandstone rocks of that area, which includes Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks, offers a dazzling, inspiring backdrop to the 200+ acre sanctuary. This special place provides a temporary (and sometimes permanent) home for dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, horses, and other animals. This group took in more than 20 of the Michael Vick dogs, several of which were later re-homed with loving families. Best Friends has done so much good around the country, including opening new adoption centers in places like Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, and New York. Soon, a new Best Friends center will open in Houston. They partner with other animal welfare groups across the country, such as Austin Pets Alive! And most recently, a small Texas town that receives thousands of animals each year. Texas leads the nation in number of shelter animals killed each year, and Best Friends – among other groups – wants to make a positive impact for pets in that state.
The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) estimates the number of dogs and cats that enter animal shelters in the United States to be around 6.5 million; 1.5 million of those, including healthy, adoptable animals, are killed. That doesn’t have to happen. If adoption rates would rise above the current 50 percent, more positive outcomes for more animals would result.
Can no-kill hapen in America during the next seven years? Best Friends envisions such a possibility. With organizations like Best Friends Animal Society and adoption supporters throughout the nation like you and me, it can be done. Let’s all do our part to educate people about the joy of pet adoption and raise the mantra of #AdoptDon’tShop in our own communities as well as via social media. There are two weeks left of October’s Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month, and November brings Adopt-a-Senior-Pet Month. Think about one thing you can do to make a positive impact on shelter animals these next several weeks, and let’s help Best Friends attain the goal of #NoKill2025 – for the sake – and the lives – of these animals.
Those of us who are pet lovers know the warm, fuzzy feeling when we see a puppy or kitten at play or when we observe someone walking their dog in the neighborhood. We also know the joy in our hearts when we come home from work or school and our furry friend greets us at the door with wagging tail or a “welcome home” MEOW! Many of us pet-lovers have adopted a pet or two.
I stopped watching Saturday morning shows years ago – but recently I started again. CBS carries a program called Lucky Dog; I began tuning in regularly after seeing a few episodes. Each week, Brandon McMillan brings a dog out of a Los Angeles animal shelter, trains it, and finds it a new home. This inspiring show and its host have won several awards, and the education provided is excellent.
October is Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month. Every year, nearly 3.5 million dogs (and just about as many cats) enter America’s animal shelters. Many thousands of others go into rescue. If you’ve been considering adopting a pet, particularly a dog, this is a great time to add a furry friend to your household. Many shelters discount their adoption fees during this month, encouraging more adoptions, and ultimately, saving more lives.
Ready to Adopt?
Here are five questions to ask yourself if you’re considering adopting a dog (or any pet for that matter):
If you answer “yes” to the above questions, then your decision to adopt a dog in need of a home is the right one! Begin your search locally for your next furry friend. Or, if you have a specific type of dog in mind, such as breed, age, sex, etc., go to Petfinder.com, put in your zip code and your pet parameters (i.e., adult, female, cocker spaniel) and see what this amazing database can find for you.
Adopting a dog saves two lives: the one being adopted and the next one in need of rescue and a home. Having a pet makes a home more cozy, warm, and loving. Just over one year ago, my husband and I adopted a Shih Tzu who had spent the first three years of his life at a puppy mill. He may never have had a home if it wasn’t for Hearts United for Animals, who rescued him and posted his availability for adoption on Petfinder as well as HUA’s website. Now, he is loved and spoiled – and I’m happy about that! You will be, too, after you adopt your next furry friend.
As mentioned in last week’s blog, October is National Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month. Whether you adopt a dog this month or sometime in the future, knowing how best to introduce a new friend to your household if you already have pets is a helpful process for everyone involved.
Here are a few tips for introducing a newly-adopted dog to other pets:
Implementing these ideas can help make your next dog adoption story a much more happily ever after! For additional tips on this topic visit the following websites:
Adding a pet to one’s home can be a scary process. Many concerns can traverse one’s mind, such as “Will the animal adjust to my home?” and, if you already have pets, “Will the current pets I have adjust to the new one?” Yet, adoption is also a joyful experience, especially knowing you’ve saved a life (or two) and that you’ve given a loving home to an animal that may never have known what that means.
October is National-Adopt-a-Shelter Dog Month, a time when many animal shelters and rescues promote the positives of dog adoption. According to Helping Hands Humane Society in Kansas, some of the benefits of adopting a shelter or rescue dog include:
There are many other reasons for adopting a shelter or rescue dog. My husband and I recently adopted a Shih Tzu from Hearts United for Animals, a Nebraska rescue that also specializes in rescuing puppy mill dogs. His name was Stormy (we’ve changed it to “Jeremiah”), and he was used for breeding purposes. His lack of compassionate care resulted in 28 teeth having to be pulled. He also needed neutering, which HUA did, and to be put on a healthy diet. The little guy has settled in quite well into my household; he is a very sweet, fun boy! He gets along wonderfully with our 2013 adopted springer/cocker mix, Mary; Jeremiah is her little shadow. When we were all outside a few days ago, Jeremiah raced through the backyard, his black ears winged back, his face skyward as if in thankfulness, my heart leaped for joy as my newly-adopted dog experienced the freedom and joy of running, playing, and basking in autumn’s sunshine. This is why rescues do what they do and why pet adopters like me do what we do – give an animal a second chance at life.
According to the ASPCA, more than three million dogs enter animal shelters every year; of those, nearly 700,000 are euthanized due to lack of homes as well as medical and behavior issues. There are numerous animal shelters and pet rescue groups across the country. In my state alone (Wyoming), there are 34 listed in Petfinder.com, a wonderful resource to find your next furry friend. In fact, Petfinder lists more than 270,000 adoptable animals from more than 11,000 animal welfare organizations across America.
Will you consider adopting a dog in need of a loving home this month? Dogs like Jeremiah are just waiting for a loving, forever home. You can save lives through adoption – believe me, there’s no greater feeling in the world than to see a dog (or cat) that’s been abandoned, neglected, or left in a shelter or rescue for another reason come out of its shell and lavish the adoptive “parent” with love and devotion!
Find your next furry friend at your local shelter or rescue, or via Petfinder.com, which by the way, is how we found Jeremiah!
Although all dogs shed, some breeds are better for people with allergies than others. Here’s a short list of dogs which may be better suited for allergy-suffers:
Find more dog breeds that may be good for people with allergies at http://www.akc.org/about/faq-allergies/.
It’s estimated that 10 percent of Americans are allergic to dogs. But, that doesn’t mean if you’re part of that population that you can’t have a dog. Consider adopting one of these hypoallergenic breeds during the month of October, which is National Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month. Find your new furry friend through Petfinder: www.petfinder.com.
Most of us know that warm, fuzzy feeling of seeing a puppy or kitten at play. Pet lovers all recognize that tug at our heartstrings when we visit a Humane Society or animal shelter and see the many animals looking at us sadly through the cages. We also know the quiver of our lip when we look on the Internet, view the photos, and read the stories of the numerous pets needing new homes, looking to be placed by the hundreds of pet rescue organizations. Many of us, in turn, respond by adopting a pet or two.
There is little else that lifts one’s spirits than to come home from a tough day at work or school and be happily greeted by a four-footed friend. If you are thinking of adding a pet to your home, seriously consider adoption – more than four million animals every year go into shelters and rescues.
October is National Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month, a great time to add a furry friend to your household. Here are six tips to help insure you and your new pet will spend many wonderful years together:
I’ve enjoyed the companionship of dogs throughout my life. Most have lived to at least ten, some to be twelve, and Cody, our cocker spaniel who passed in January, was more than seventeen. Cody was deaf and couldn’t see very well during those final months, but one thing he possessed, nearly to the end, was spirit. He was loyal to his people and to his animal friends. That’s a great lesson to learn from an old dog: loyalty.
Sage, the sweet, blind springer spaniel my husband and I adopted in 2001, shared our home and hearts for more than 11 years, living to be 12 ½ years of age. She endured several eye surgeries prior to becoming completely blind due to Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). Yet, through it all, she showcased courage and perseverance. Her entire life reflected those traits, as well as kindness, friendship, and compassion.
There’s a lot we can learn from an old dog. Here are a few things:
October is National Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month, and November bring National Adopt-a-Senior-Pet Month. Bring those two together and in October consider adding a senior dog to your household. Just as we can learn from the wisdom of older people, we can also learn from elderly animals – if only we’d open our hearts to what these wonderful creatures can teach us.
There is a wonderful story from last year about a man who adopted an eight-week-old puppy and kept the dog all of his life. Then, as the dog’s quality of life dwindled, the man didn’t abandon the old dog or stick it in a shelter, as many people do; instead, the man took his dog on a trip of a lifetime, like having “a bucket list,” visiting places he wanted to share with his dog. Read the wonderful, heart-warming story and see the moving photos at http://abcnews.go.com/Lifestyle/york-man-takes-dying-dog-bucket-list-adventure/story?id=31338158
Another such heart-warming pet-human adventure story came this past summer: http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/13/health/dog-last-trip-trnd/
These stories showcases devotion, love, compassion, and joy. May we find beauty in life around us, in nature, in people, in ourselves, and in our companion animals – no matter what their age.
They come in all sizes, shapes, and colors. From big to little, from extra-tiny to extra-large, dog breeds are as variable as the human race. Red, white, blue, black, brown, tawny, spotted, solid; short-hair, long-hair, no-hair. Outgoing and friendly, shy and reserved, protective, loving. A hunter, a herder, a comfort, service-oriented. Sniffing, drooling, laughing, quiet, boisterous. There is a type of dog for every type of person.
Dogs have been part of humankind’s existence for eons. And yet, millions need homes each and every year.
October is National Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month, a time to celebrate the joy of canine companionship and promote the adoption of these wonderful creatures. The ASPCA estimates nearly eight million dogs and cats enter shelters across the United States annually; about three million are killed. Sadly, only about 35 percent of animals that are available for adoption actually get new homes, meaning millions are killed because not enough people adopt.
In addition to the humane societies and animal shelters, there are rescue groups, many of which are voluntarily-run, that take in dogs (and cats) in an effort to re-home them. From coast-to-coast, these tireless individuals run these organizations with one focus: to save and adopt-out pets. Some are breed-specific; many of these are noted by the American Kennel Club (AKC). Others are type-specific, such as herding dogs or large dogs (see the websites for HERD of Wyoming and Big Dogs Huge Paws). Others accept whatever dog needs rescuing. To find a shelter or rescue group near you, visit Petfinder.com. Or, if you’re interested in a breed-specific rescue, visit the AKC website: http://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/rescue-network/contacts/
When you adopt, especially from a kill-shelter, you are saving a life. In fact, you’re likely saving two lives: the one you adopt and the one coming into the shelter after it. Wherever you adopt, shelter (kill or not) or rescue, you are helping more than one dog, for when you adopt, room in that facility or foster home is made for another animal in need.
Dogs that go into a rescue or shelter aren’t bad; they are likely being given up due to a move (the #1 reason people give up their animals), health of the person (an elderly individual going into a nursing home cannot take their beloved pet with them), or other life change, such as job loss. If behavior is the cause, the owner likely did not provide his/her dog with obedience training. Simple commands such as “sit,” “stay,” “heel,” “come,” and “no” alleviate a lot of behavior issues – but a dog can’t teach those things to himself; owners need to be responsible for the training of their pets. Classes are often held through AKC clubs, big-box pet stores, such as PetCo and PetSmart, or one can hire a trainer (or research how to train a dog themselves – just remember, positive reinforcement is the best way to train a dog).
Pets improve people’s lives. Research shows people with pets are happier and healthier. Dogs make us exercise; even walks around the block help both humans and their canine friends be healthier. The simple act of petting a dog decreases blood pressure, reduces stress, and calms us down as well as uplifts our moods. Many dogs enjoy riding in the car, going for walks, jogs, and hikes, and simply being a part of a family; therefore, they make wonderful companions!
So, consider adopting a dog this month. Whether you are single, married, have children (or not), or are retired, there’s a dog to fit every lifestyle. Of course, you need to find the RIGHT dog -- that’s one of the roles of animal shelters, rescue organizations, and humane societies. The staff and volunteers who spend time with the animals know their personalities and may often know the dog’s background, therefore, they offer a tremendous service for those hoping to add a dog to their life. But, do your research as well. You know your lifestyle – learn about the breeds and discover what type of dog best fits your family life and energy level. Visit this website to learn about the different dog breeds: http://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/
Be a hero – save a life today by adopting the right dog for you!
October is National Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month, a prime opportunity to visit your local humane society, animal shelter, or pet rescue organization. But, before you jump into the realm of dog (or cat, or any pet) adoption, consider the responsibility of caring for a pet.
Likely you've seen the TV ads: sorrowful eyes staring out from cages. You've heard the plea: help shelter pets. You may have even heard the longing in your child's voice: “Can we PLEASE get a dog?!” All pluck at your heart like a harp string, making you seriously consider adding a dog to your household.
But, you have questions – good for you! Your pondering shows responsibility, and that’s crucial of a dog owner. What else? Well, here are some things to consider:
NEVER get a dog on impulse! God gave humans dominion, but we are to take care of His creatures in a responsible, caring way. A dog is a life that will be your responsibility. Don’t be a statistic and don’t let your dog be one either. More than seven million dogs come into shelters annually, and of those, nearly three million are killed because not enough people adopt shelter dogs (about 20 percent of dog owners adopt) and only about 25 percent of stray dogs are reclaimed. Adoption often saves a dog's life.
For some people the breed is vital. Not all shelter dogs are “mutts” – nearly 25 percent are purebred. Therefore, if having a setter or sheltie ranks high for your family, begin looking at your local shelter. Additionally, nearly every dog breed has a rescue organization associated with it. For information on purebred dog rescues, visit http://www.akc.org/breeds/rescue.cfm.
Just because it's in rescue or shelter doesn't mean there's something wrong with the dog; many are turned in because an owner loses a house or dies, therefore, the animal is relinquished. Locate a shelter or rescue near you at http://www.petfinder.com/.
Understand Dog Breeds
Research the breeds and choose a dog that fits your lifestyle. For example, if you live in an urban apartment, getting a border collie is not the most wise decision. These dogs are energetic, need room to run, and are herders. If you have small children at home, choosing a breed that is known to be affectionate with kids, such as golden retrievers or beagles, would be better than adding a Chow Chow or chihuahua. Learn about dog breeds at http://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/.
Like people, dogs are individuals and, depending upon the background and former family, one that, in general, is considered good with kids may not be if that particular dog hasn't been around children. Therefore, brush up on the dog breeds in general and also learn as much as you can about the the dog you're considering. The shelter/rescue staff will provide you with as much information as they can – don't be afraid to ask questions.
Puppy or Not?
Puppy, middle-aged, senior … what age is best? That again depends upon your lifestyle. Can you handle all the training, including housebreaking, a puppy needs? Do you have the time and patience to deal with chewing, whining, and other challenges a puppy poses? Baby dogs are similar to baby humans – they require time, attention, and training.
Teenaged dogs, adult dogs, and senior dogs all offer benefits: (1) they generally are the size they will be and (2) they may already be housebroken. However, teenaged dogs tend to be hyper and get into trouble (like many teen kids), but if you're patient, willing to train, and can put up with some shenanigans occasionally, that age may work for you.
Consider adults and seniors. Adult dogs are more calm than teenagers or puppies, and senior-aged and smaller breeds don't require much exercise. Therefore, if you're not very active or not home a lot, if you don't have a large yard or a community dog park nearby, then an older, less lively breed might be more suitable. Also, by adopting an older dog, you are likely saving its life – senior dogs are less likely to find homes, yet their devotion is just as strong as, sometimes stronger than youngsters because they have already known family life.
Obedience training is a primary key, no matter the age or breed. Basic commands like “sit,” “stay,” “come,” and “no” help bring calm from chaos and also help keep your dog safer. There are many training options, from doing it yourself to hiring a professional. Community kennel clubs, PetCo and PetSmart stores, and some rescues and shelters offer obedience classes. Check what's available in your community and make the time to take this critical step with your dog.
Images of wagging tails, drooling mouths, and lapping tongues conjure up smiles. Adding a dog to one's home can and should be a blessing, but there are important steps to take beforehand. Do your homework, understand your lifestyle, and be committed to caring for a dog for its lifetime Doing these things will keep you, your family, and your new furry friend happy for a lifetime! Take some time in October to consider adopting a new friend during National Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month.
Every year, about seven million animals go into shelters and rescues across the country. Dogs, cats, rabbits, horses, guinea pigs, parakeets, and other animals come in as stray, are abandoned, or given up for various reasons. Nearly half of those that enter shelters are killed.
October is National Adopt-a-Shelter Dog Month. The numerous rescue organizations, animal shelters, and humane societies across the country take in the stray and unwanted, and for people seeking to adopt, there's a plethora of animals from which to choose. And so there are questions: Which breed of dog? What type of pet? Dog? Cat? Rabbit? Lizard? Parakeet? Fish?
How do you choose?
First, consider your lifestyle. Are you home a lot or gone? Are you an active person or a couch potato? Do you want an animal that needs to be with you a lot or one that's independent? Do you have time to walk and play with a pet? Dogs especially crave the attention of their people; they are pack animals and mostly social, so getting a dog and then leaving it for hours on end, indoors or outdoors, and neglecting that desire to be with you can lead to destructive behaviors and abandonment anxiety.
Second, consider the allergy factor – does anyone in your family have allergies to pet hair/dander? Are you allergic to bird feathers? Even though many people with allergies have pets, it's also a big reason people turn animals into shelters and rescues. If you or someone in your house is severely allergic to animal hair/dander, then consider having a reptile, like a lizard or turtle, or a variety of fish for a beautiful aquarium.
Third, do you expect a life change in the near future, such as moving or having a baby? These are also main reasons people bring animals to the shelter. Keep in mind a pet is a major responsibility and should be a lifetime commitment. Dogs and cats in particular attach themselves to their human families, and it's very traumatic for them to go from living in a home to a shelter situation, behind bars, on cold concrete, amid other barking dogs and meowing cats. Therefore, don't think of a pet as a temporary resident, but as a member of the family, and if you think you'll be making a major life change in the near future, postpone getting a pet until your life is more settled.
Fourth, research the different breeds of dogs and cats and the other types of animals people have for pets. Understand that terriers dig, beagles bay, corgis herd, cats claw, and longhaired felines need regular grooming. Most dogs and cats shed and bird and hamster cages need regular cleaning. Know what you're in for BEFORE you add a pet to your home and learn about the personality traits and habits of different breeds. Also recognize the needs of the various types of animals before you adopt.
Lastly, don't adopt on a whim and don't “gift” an animal, no matter whether it's a dog, cat, kitten, puppy, hamster, rabbit, or other creature. Remember the previous tips about understanding the needs of the animal and the responsibilities of pet ownership. Don't surprise someone and don't get an animal for yourself or your family without the knowledge base of which pet best fits your life. If you want to “gift” a pet, offer to pay the adoption fee for someone and let them choose the pet themselves. If you're considering giving your children the “gift” of a pet, keep in mind mom and dad are ultimately responsible for the care and cost of the pet... and even a “free pet” costs money for vet care, food, and other supplies … and pets take time, especially dogs. As a family, research the various types of pets and the different breeds of dogs and cats, and spend time together at the shelters and rescues to find the right animal that fits your family's lifestyle and personalities. A good opportunity to do that comes during Christmas break, when you can visit the facilities frequently and spend time with the various animals available for adoption … and you have the time after the holiday with your new family member before it's left alone when the kids return to school and you return to work.
The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) provides a list of pros and cons to adding a pet to your home. They offer tips and guidelines for those considering adopting a dog, a cat, a hamster, a guinea pig, a rabbit, or having a fish. View these tips, and other important pet information, at the organization's website: https://www.aspca.org/adopt/adoption-tips/right-pet-you.
So, which pet is the right one? The one that is right for you!
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and public relations professional who volunteers with various animal rescue groups. She enjoys sharing her books and her passion for pets and the environment with others.