It’s never been easier to find a furry BFF
As the leaves start to turn, and the air grows chilly, it’s clear fall is well underway. Most think of the harvest season as a time for apple picking, Halloween costumes and cozy sweaters, but did you know that it is also the perfect opportunity to introduce a new family member into your home?
As any dog would tell you, the crisp weather is ideal for long walks in the park during the day and snuggling on the couch at night. Yet, so many pups are still without homes when autumn rolls around — a staggering 3.3 million, to be exact.
October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, an initiative started by American Humane in October 1981. Dog adoption is trending this season, with more dogs finding their forever homes in the fall than any other time of year, explains Gail Buchwald, senior vice president of the ASPCA Adoption Center.
“Adopt a Shelter Dog Month is a time to celebrate the joy of dog adoption,” Buchwald tells The Dodo, “and is the perfect opportunity to help the millions of dogs in animal shelters nationwide find loving, happy homes!”
There’s never been a better time to find a furry companion and in the process help numerous other homeless dogs and cats. “Shelter animals make wonderful pets, and by adopting one, you’re not only saving a life,” Buchwald says, “but freeing up shelter space and resources for another animal in need.”
While there are plenty of reasons to adopt a dog from a shelter or rescue organization, there are also plenty of misconceptions, too. If you think shelter pups are damaged goods, that couldn’t be further from the truth. “Animals often end up in shelters through no fault of their own,” Buchwald notes. “Many animals enter shelters because an owner has had to give them up due to relocation, financial hardships or health problems.”
Dogs surrendered by their owners are already accustomed to being pets in a home, and may have already mastered basic obedience skills and socialization, which can be a huge advantage for their new owner.
Another myth that plagues shelter pups is that only a certain type of dog winds up in a shelter. However, all you have to do is visit to see that all kinds of pups are available for adoption, varying greatly in age, breed and personality.
Those worried they will not be able to find the dog of their dreams just need to do a bit more research, and between online databases such as Adopt-a-Pet.com and Petfinder, local adoption events and social media campaigns, the multitudes of dogs in shelters are more visible and accessible than ever before.
During the month of October, the ASPCA launched a new social media initiative Find Your Fido to help connect dogs with potential owners. The campaign is encouraging animal lovers everywhere to post pictures of dogs currently in shelters or their own adopted pup, to show just how life-changing dog adoption can be.
“We believe there’s a perfect pup for every person — sometimes they just need help finding each other — which is why our campaign is designed to increase the digital exposure for shelter dogs everywhere in order to help these animals find safe and loving homes,” Buchwald says.
If you are not pet-ready yet, that’s OK, too! You can make a difference this month by donating money, time or supplies to your local animal shelter or posting a picture of the homeless dogs in your area (using the hashtag #findyourfido) to raise awareness. For those wary of long-term commitment, fostering a dog is a great way to get an animal out of a shelter and into a home, even if it’s just for a few nights.
Adoption may be on the rise, but there is plenty yet to do to clear the shelters. “Although there’s been an estimated 18 percent increase in animal adoptions nationwide since 2011, we can’t lose sight of the work left to be done,” Buchwald adds. “We want to keep pet adoption top of mind while showing everyone they can find room in their lives for a shelter dog.”
This fall, you too can save a life and do loads of good for canine friends everywhere.