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October = Adopt-a-Dog Month

During the month of October, two well-known associations in the U.S. bring attention to the millions of dogs waiting for their forever homes in shelters nationwide. The American Humane Society (AHS) calls October Adopt-a-Dog month, and the American Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has named October Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog month. Sadly, it is estimated that 3.7 million animals are euthanized in animal shelters every year; the mission of Adopt-a-Dog-Month is to increase the chance that any dog that is offered a second chance doesn’t end up as a statistic.

Why adopt vs. buy a dog? To begin with, the term “adopt” means you’re adding a family member. To “buy” a dog implies purchase of a possession. The mindset is much different according to which term is used. Sadly, most pet store puppies come from puppy mills, where dogs are not bred for good health and temperament and where they are often raised in inhumane conditions, only seen as a product to sell. Adopting reduces the number of homeless dogs, whereas buying one only encourages breeders to keep on breeding. Also, evidence has shown that mixed-breed dogs are healthier overall than purebred dogs, which often have health issues concentrated in their particular breed, sometimes caused by inbreeding over time.

A local shelter is the perfect place to find a dog to add to a family. A shelter staff member may be able to recommend a dog that will be best suited for a potential family’s lifestyle. Shelters offer a variety of purebreds, mixed breeds, and different sizes, making it easy to find what a family wants in a pet. During October, shelters may decrease adoption prices or even make adoptions free on a certain day or weekend to encourage adoptions and bring awareness to the increasing need for forever homes. If a particular breed is preferred that can’t be found in a shelter, a family can easily find rescue groups in their area by doing a bit of research.

There may be many dogs waiting for their future families, but sometimes it is not possible for a family to adopt at the time. However, people do not have to adopt an animal to show that they support responsible adoption instead of puppy mills and backyard breeders. Even if a pet parent can’t adopt, they can still show support by donating their time, money, and needed supplies to a shelter or rescue group. Also, spaying or neutering the animals they already have at home prevents the possibility of unexpected puppies. Pets who have been spayed or neutered not only live longer, healthier lives but have fewer behavioral problems as well. Many shelters also implant a micro-chip ID as part of adoption costs since there is only a 15-20% chance that a pet will be reunited with their owner if the pet doesn’t have some form of identification. It is important to have proper ID in case a pet gets loose and ends up in a shelter. Identification can include either a tag or a microchip, although it is never a bad idea to have both, in case the chip can’t be found.

As the mission of Adopt-a-Dog-month continues to be recognized, the hope is that as awareness spreads, more people will make an effort to make a difference in the lives of homeless animals who deserve a loving family of their own.