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October has a lot going for it. Cooler weather, the beginning of leaves turning to fiery colors, pumpkin everything, the end of fall allergy season…. It’s also National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month! If you’re reading this, it’s safe to assume that you’re already an animal-lover and might already have dogs. Even if you’re not searching for a new furry family member, your advocacy can make the difference in a shelter dog’s (or cat’s) life.
Why is there even a national month for this? Let’s look at the stats (source: HumaneSociety.org):
The numbers are alarming and largely preventable. The rate of adoptions compared to euthanasias has improved since the 1970s, but not nearly as much as it could. There are two main reasons for this: spay and neuter compliance is still not as good as it should be, especially in this part of the country, and purchases from puppy mills and the pet stores they supply, as well as other breeders, mean that adoptable dogs who are usually on borrowed time in county shelters are often not even considered for adoption.
Many people believe that in order to get a new puppy, they must buy one from a breeder, but this isn’t true. Puppies end up in shelters regularly. But as adorable and sweet as puppies are, we strongly encourage you to consider adult dogs, as well. They deserve love, too, and are a lot less likely to chew your shoes or need 2am potty training.
County or city shelters have limited kennel space. Most run at max capacity all the time. This means that in order to make space for new arrivals of strays or dogs who are unwanted by their owners, they must euthanize cats and dogs to create an empty kennel. It’s a cycle perpetuated by humans, so it’s up to humans to make it better.
Adoption and/or advocacy—for individuals dogs or for all shelter dogs—is critical to spreading the word for particular pups as well as educating people about the urgency around adoptions, rescues, deaths, or prevention of the cycle.
In addition to your local government–run shelter, there are thousands of nonprofit rescue organizations for all kinds of pets ranging from dogs and cats to horses and pigs! These pull many of their adoptable pets directly from shelters to reduce the shelter burden, or they accept pets from owners who otherwise intend to surrender their animals to a shelter. So supporting or volunteering with a local rescue group, many of which are breed-specific for those who prefer a particular breed, is also a great way to help! Raleigh, NC has some great ones that we’re proud to work with!