Did you know that there are over 10 million adoptable animals entering our nation’s shelters each year just waiting for a family to call their own? According to the ASPCA, approximately 5-9 million of these animals are euthanized in our shelters every year due to overcrowding.
Welcoming a new dog into your home and your heart can bring years of happiness for all involved. Before you adopt, please make sure that you can give a lifelong commitment to a new dog by considering the following:
Research different breeds and temperaments. Do you have small children, live in an apartment, like to be active? While individual dogs have unique personalities, learning a little about the breed may help narrow down your choices, even in the case of mixed breeds.
How much time will you have to spend with your dog? Dogs that are left alone for long periods of time can be destructive and develop separation anxiety. If you are away a lot this may not be the best time to bring a new dog into your home.
Manners, please! Some shelter dogs come with their own set of baggage and behavioral problems. Even if they don’t, it is important to enroll your new dog in a basic obedience class to ensure you can enjoy your dog’s company no matter where you take him.
A healthy dog is a happy dog. Regular visits to the veterinarian are necessary for the health of your dog. Unexpected visits are also par for the course when you own a dog, so make sure you are ready for the financial commitment as much as the emotional commitment of having a dog.
Bringing home your new family member. Make your dog feel welcome in his new home by stocking up on some basic supplies before bringing him home. A new collar and leash, food, dog bowl, crate or dog bed, and some fun toys are a good start.
What can you do to help if you are not in the position to adopt a dog at this time?
Help a dog find a loving home by contributing your time or money to your local shelter. Part of the reason that shelters are overcrowded is the fact that they don’t have enough volunteers to help with administrative tasks and adoption events. Another option that is often overlooked is fostering a dog while it is awaiting adoption. Thousands of dogs were stranded during Hurricane Katrina and foster homes are still needed. This can free up more space in the shelter and also provides a comforting atmosphere for a dog. Even the best shelter can be a stressful place for a scared dog, so why not offer your home as a temporary reprieve?
Help is needed all year round for the millions of dogs that remain in our shelters. To learn more about this because you can visit the ASPCA, Petfinder, or your local shelter. Lives are depending on us!