Monday, October 15, 2012

Adopt a Shelter Dog Month

Hiking in the Smokey Mountains
The entire month of October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month! Animal shelters across the country are offering deeply discounted dog adoptions this month in an effort to make it even easier to bring a wonderful new friend into your home.

I’ve never really talked about pets here on the blog, but for those who know me, my pets are my children. And while I wouldn’t claim that having a pet is quite like having a human child, I would argue that every dollar spent on feeding and caring for my pets, every hour spent training and working with them has been exponentially paid back in unspeakable joy and the unconditional love that only animals have the ability give.

Unfortunately, much like how our agriculture system and meat-heavy diets have placed a completely unfair and deplorable death sentence on our farm animals, our irresponsibility, neglect and just plain cruelty have left between 6 million and 8 million household pets in shelters across the country, and about 3 million to 4 million euthanized each year.

While these numbers are down dramatically since the 1970s due to all of the wonderful organizations, shelters and volunteers that work to educate their communities, provide free spay and neuter clinics, and spend thousands of hours to rehabilitate animals so they can go to great homes, we still have a long way to go.

Helping us paint
Here in the South, our citizens are among the worst in the country for animal treatment. In fact, our shelters are so overrun here, many of our neglected dogs and cats are shipped to shelters up north where people are more inclined to adopt shelter animals. It’s because of this that my husband and I held off on adopting a dog until we relocated to Nashville. Within just a couple months of moving here, we got Toby, a black and white mutt we suspect is some sort of border collie mix. I will note that choosing a black dog was on purpose – black animals are the least adopted, so both of our animals are black and any pets we have in the future will probably also be black.

Over the course of a year, Toby had been adopted five times and returned five times, we were told because he was an escape artist. Completely won over by his sweet nature and gentle spirit, particularly when he interacted with children, we vowed to make it work. It didn’t take much. A month or two of basic exercise, a little bit of effort and trust was all it took. To this day, I have no idea how five different families could have been so dumb, but their loss was our gain. We may have, arguably, the best dog in the world.  

If you are even considering the idea of adding a pet to your family, I strongly encourage you to visit your local shelter this month. As someone who volunteers at my local shelter every other Sunday, I can personally attest to how wonderful these animals are and how lovingly they are cared for by the volunteers who give up several hours of their day or week to keep them comfortable while they wait for their forever homes.

If a pet isn’t right for your family right now, please consider making a small donation to your local animal shelter or giving food, toys, dishes, etc. With most shelters run on donations and volunteers, every little contribution makes a huge difference in the lives of these animals and in your community.

Playing with our foster kittens

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