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adopr a shelter dog month


Perhaps you’ve been thinking of adding a four-legged friend to your family. After all, the unconditional love of a dog has the ability to make our days brighter and our lives better. If you’re feeling the pull toward pet parenthood then there’s no better time than the month of October—it’s Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month!


The number of pets who end up in shelters every year is astonishing. In the US, it’s estimated that 6 to 8 million cats and dogs enter shelters each year. While animal shelters do everything they possibly can to provide comfort for these dogs, most of these abandoned pets are in desperate need of a forever home. Millions of healthy, loving dogs are euthanized each year because they just don’t have anywhere to go. But you can make a difference in the life of these animals—when you are ready to welcome a new dog into the family, consider adopting a shelter dog.

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about dogs in shelters that might prevent someone from going the adoption route. Here are some of the most common myths:

  • Shelters only have older dogs, and I want a puppy. Actually, shelters have pets of all ages. From puppies to seniors—and everything in between—you can find dogs in all stages of life. And remember, while puppies are cute, slightly older dogs will already be housetrained and easier to handle.

  • I’m in love with a certain breed and shelters only have mixed-breed dogs. Not true! The National Council of Pet Population Study and Policy estimates that 25 percent of dogs in shelters are purebred. It may just be a matter of searching shelters in your area (which is much easier now with the advent of online adoption websites like Petfinder).

  • If a dog’s been abandoned, there must be something wrong with him. Dogs are given up for all kinds of reasons. In truth, the majority of dogs who end up in shelters end up there through no fault of their own. Some owners have a change in life circumstances that prevent them from keeping a dog; some owners pass away and leave no one to care for their pet; and unfortunately some owners are just not cut out to be pet parents in the first place. Visit your local shelter and you’ll be amazed by the well-trained, loving, fabulous dogs you’ll find there.

  • Shelter staff won’t be able to find me the right dog for my family. Hard-working shelter staff spend lots of time with the animals in their care. Most of them are experienced with adoption “matchmaking”—finding every potential adopter who walks through the door the perfect dog. After all, the last thing they’d want to see is a dog who gets sent back after being placed. It would just be too heartbreaking! That’s why they’ll carefully screen you to find out what kind of dog will suit you best.

Now that we’ve cleared away some of the misconceptions about shelter dogs, there are just a few things you need to consider before going to the shelter to find your new best friend.

  • Why do you want a dog? If the answer is “for the children” or “because my spouse wants one” you may want to take a step back and really think about this decision. While children are sure to enjoy the new addition to the family, they will not be the primary caretakers—no matter how much they promise. And if you are not fully on board with a partner’s zeal for a home with a dog, this may cause tension in the relationship. There’s nothing wrong with waiting until the entire family is fully committed to the time and care it takes to raise a dog.

  • Do you have the resources to care for a dog, including food and veterinary bills? Take a realistic look at your budget. In addition to food, there are trips to the veterinarian, vaccinations, various necessities like collars, leashes, dog beds, etc.—and it all adds up. Don’t adopt a pet you can’t afford. Wait until you are financially secure and it will be much less stressful for you.

  • How active are you? This is an essential question to ask yourself. Getting a dog who doesn’t match your energy level can be disastrous. If your ideal afternoon is hanging around the home reading or watching a movie, you’ll want to avoid a dog labeled “energetic” by the shelter. However, if you are looking for a jogging partner or a dog to compete with, look for dogs who have herding or sporting breeds in their ancestry.

  • Is your home ready for a dog? If you live in an apartment or condo, are dogs allowed? Is there a weight limit or breed restriction? Find out this essential information before you go to the shelter. If you have a backyard, is it fenced in? If not, are you prepared to take your dog out as often as necessary to meet his needs? Take a look at your living space from a dog’s perspective and make sure it’s ready for a canine roommate.

The rewards of adopting a shelter dog and saving the life of a wonderful animal are almost indescribable. The years of joy your canine companion will give you will make it clear that saving a shelter dog is one of the best decisions you will ever make.

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