October is the official month to adopt a pet!. Maybe this is the year you decide to add a furry friend to your household! The American Humane Society has been running this month-long event in America every October since 1981.
Its estimated 3-4 million animals are currently in shelters and foster homes awaiting their forever family.
Benefits of Pet Ownership
The pros of inviting a pet into your life are immeasurable; dogs can enrich your everyday life in multiple ways. These furry critters have been known to reduce anxiety, stress, provide companionship and encourage a more active lifestyle.
If you have children, a family pet can help teach valuable lessons on how to care for animals with compassion and empathy. Furthermore, a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that dogs can help strengthen immune systems and help decrease the symptoms of allergies and asthma in children.
Even our most senior members of society can benefit from having a loyal companion at their side. It’s well known that seniors feel more safe and secure within their homes, and as an added bonus, seniors who own dogs are more likely to be engaged with the community and lead a healthier life.
Benefits of Adoption
So, we have talked about the benefits about owning a dog, now let’s talk about the benefits of adopting from your local shelter. You would essentially be saving a life. According to the Humane Society, approximately 6-8 million cats and dogs enter shelters across America every year. An astounding 3 million cats and dogs are euthanized every year, and of those 3 million it is estimated that 2.4 million (80%) are healthy, treatable, and could easily have been adopted.
Let’s talk about puppy mills. Just over 2 million puppies are born and sold from puppy factories every year. Puppy mills are ruthless, cold, and profit-centered. There are an estimated 10,000 licensed and unlicensed mills in America right now, and the only way to stop this trend is with a decrease in demand.
Another benefit from adopting this October is a lot of your local shelters are hosting adoption fee-free events.
Tips for Adopting a Shelter Dog
The best person to speak to about adopting a fur baby is someone from your local shelter. They usually work with these dogs very closely everyday and understand their needs and what environments would work for each pup.
Its also crucial that you are upfront with your living situation and experience. For example, if you are someone who has never owned a dog before and work full time, then it might not be recommended that you adopt a pet with serious and demanding health problems that require round the clock care. Just like people, dogs come in all different shapes and sizes. Absolutely every single dog has a different personality and quirks that make them unique and beautiful. So here are some questions to ask yourself before adopting a new best friend!
- How stable is your life right now?
Dogs are a commitment. The average life span of a dog is about 10-13 years, so it’s responsible to take stock of what kind of lifestyle you are living at the moment and how you see yourself living over the next 10-15 years.
- How much time are you able to spend with your dog every day?
Dogs need mental and physical stimulation to avoid behavioral problems. If you are someone who works 8+ hours a day, there are options available! You may need to consider using a local dog walker, or perhaps a doggie daycare is more suitable.
Your local shelter may have a dog that is quite independent and is more than happy to spend large amounts of time home alone. Just ensure they have plenty of space to roam, access to fresh water and food, and make sure to swap out interactive toys regularly.
- Are you prepared for behavioral problems?
Unfortunately, there are plenty of dogs that are rescued from unimaginable circumstances. This can lead to minor, or in some cases major, behavioral problems. That’s why it is recommended by multiple experts that whenever you introduce a dog into your home, you must instill basic training. There are thousands of in-depth videos on Youtube that give a basic understanding of dog behavior and training. Look for a dog trainer near you. We recommend looking specifically for trainers who focus on positive training methods when it comes to shelter dogs with an unknown behavior and health hitroy.
It can be so rewarding to adopt an abused dog. Most of the dogs in shelters are just waiting for a second chance at life. It may require making small adjustments or taking things a little slower, but when you make small victories and you see the transformation from a timid or scared dog into a playful, energetic ball of fun with all of the love and trust in the world for you, nothing is better than that.
- What kind of space do you live in?
One of the most common reasons as to why dogs are surrendered and abandoned in America is that breeders and stores sell dogs into the wrong home environment. Some homes just aren’t large enough for some dogs. Therefore, it is crucial to know what breeds of dogs would work best for your lifestyle. So, look around your surroundings - but through the eyes of a dog. If you live in a small apartment, that’s okay! There are a lot of gentle giants and smaller breeds that require less space to run and play. And just a side not: if you are working with space constraints,, Chihuahuas are the smallest dog breed and yet the 3rd most surrendered dog in America.
- Can I afford a dog?
Adoption is usually a much more affordable alternative than a pet store. However, just because you aren’t spending top dollar on a purebred dog, all puppers will still have a variety of financial obligations attached. Dogs need routine veterinarian care, annual vaccinations, parasite and heartworm treatments monthly, and be fed a high-quality food. Even small expenses such as toys, leashes, and bones can start to add up. Costs of caring for a dog is ongoing, so you should make sure you are prepared for these costs.
- Is everyone in the household on the same page?
Adopting a furry critter may enrich your life beyond measure, but it’s important to check that other people you live with are okay with the new addition! If you are renting, it may be wise to get landlord approval also. If you have small children in the home, take the time to teach your child how to play with your dog safely. Make sure to never leave your new adoptee and child unsupervised.
- Do I have other pets in the house?
Is your new doggo going to have a sibling? How do your current pets react with other dogs? Make sure you ask for advice from your local shelter on how to safely introduce your new dog to ensure a successful friendship! All introductions should happen slowly and with supervision.
- Have you got a lot of experience with dogs?
If your new to pet ownership, there are many resources available such as puppy school or your local vet to ensure you can be the best doggy-parent possible!
On the other hand, if do you have experience, you could be a superhero and adopt an “underdog” with disabilities who need a knowledgeable and compassionate touch!
- Do you want a puppy or adult dog?
There is a misconception that bringing home a puppy can allow you to shape and mold their personality. Genetics play a huge role in determining the temperament and personality of a dog. Bringing home a puppy also has a set of challenges, as you will be bringing home the equivalent of a human toddler! Be prepared to lose a slipper or two and clean up some “mistakes”. Adult dogs come with the advantage of typically already being house trained and sometimes even a knowledge of basic commands. Some animal shelters have trainers and volunteers who work with adult dogs to learn basic training, which would be a benefit!
But not all adult dogs in shelters will come straight into your home with housetraining or basic manners. Even if they’ve learned some in the shelter, dogs don’t generalize behavior and training well to new environments, so some basic training will still be important.
Rescue groups will be able to give you quite a lot of information of temperament and behavior.
- Are you wanting a pure breed?
If owning a specific breed with its specific traits and behavioral characteristics is important to you, you’re still in luck. Surprisingly, over 25% of dogs that enter shelters are purebred.
And if your not breed-specific, shelters have plenty of healthy, loving cross-breeds waiting for a forever home!
Other Ways to Help During Adopt-a-Pet Month
So how can we help with the American Humane in their effort to place dogs into forever homes?
If adopting is something you’re not equipped for right now, that’s okay! There are plenty of ways to support your local shelter.
Donating money is the best way to help.
And if that’s not financially possible, you can donate your time, food, or resources.
Helping can even be as simple as hitting “Like” and “Follow” on your local shelters’ social media accounts, as well as the American Humane. You can share the profiles of all the cute puppers that are in desperate need of a home. Get the word out and play doggy match-maker! 40% of dog owners learned about their bestie from word of mouth. Encourage any of your friends who are considering adding a pet to adopt instead!
Bonus Tip! Subaru is donating $100 to local shelters for every adoption this October, so visit your local Subaru dealership to receive a list of participating shelters and help get the word out!
GT O’Connor et al. Early-life home environment and risk of asthma among inner-city children. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2017.06.040 (2017).
ASPCA Website, Pet Statistics https://www.aspca.org/animal-homelessness/shelter-intake-and-surrender/pet-statistics
Humane Society of America https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/puppy-mill-doublespeak
Pryor, Karen. Don’t Shoot The Dog & Clicker Training Academy. https://www.clickertraining.com/node/2077
Subaru is donating $100 to local shelters for every adoption this October