By Daria Zeoli, Guest Contributor
My own dog in need, Millie, came home with us two years ago this coming November. She was fortunate to be rescued by a local organization, but she spent some time in the rescue’s shelter before she came home with us for good. The sad but true fact is Millie was not alone. Too many dogs have seen the insides of an animal shelter at one or more points in their lives.
According to HSUS, the latest data for 2014 shows some staggering numbers:
- There are between 6 and 8 million cats and dogs entering shelters each year. (Perhaps even more staggering – that number is down from 13 million over forty years ago.)
- 4 million cats and dogs are adopted each year.
- 3 million cats and dogs are
euthanizedkilled in shelters every year; approximately 2.4 million are adoptable.
- Twenty-five percent of shelter dogs are purebred.
Millions of animals are waiting for homes. There is no need to buy from a breeder. Interested in a particular breed? There are rescues that cater to your preference. Petfinder even lets you search by breed. I repeat, there is no need to buy from a breeder. Adopt, don’t shop: it’s more than a hashtag. It saves lives.
The Pet Population
While plenty of animal activists are familiar with Bob Barker’s championing for animals, even those who were simply fans of The Price is Right remember his show closer: “Help control the pet population, have your pet spayed or neutered.” Drew Carey continues the tradition as the show’s current host.
With millions of dogs in need of homes, we can’t afford the possibility of more unwanted puppies. According to the ASCPA, an average litter size is four to six puppies, and an unspayed dog can have a litter every year. Only 10% of the animals who enter shelters have already been spayed or neutered.
When you are ready to open your home to someone, visit your local shelter or rescue. My own county animal shelter is full of cats and dogs needing homes. It’s sad, but I’m so glad that they give any animal who can be adopted the chance to be adopted. Chance, for instance, was a dog who lived at the shelter for over two years before he was taken home. Yonkers Animal Shelter in New York is another shelter who gives hope to its residents. Just last month, Olive the pit bull got her happy ending when she was adopted after over a decade of waiting.
These stories aren’t par for the course. Many shelters don’t have the space or resources to keep animals for any sort of lengthy period. If your social media feeds are like mine, perhaps you’ve seen the urgent shares about dogs on “death row” – urgent pleas for animals who are scheduled to be killed within a day or two. It’s horrifying and inexcusable.
No-kill or not, shelters are often over-crowded and under-resourced. If you can’t take in a dog, please consider donating your time as a volunteer, your money if you have some to spare or supplies such as food, toys, and beds.
The Shelter Pet Project
Since it’s Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month, it’s only logical to mention The Shelter Pet Project, a collaboration between HSUS, Maddie’s Fund, and The Ad Council.
Our goal is to make shelters the first place potential adopters turn when looking to get a new pet, ensuring that all healthy and treatable pets find loving homes. We do this by breaking down misconceptions surrounding shelter pets and communicating that “A person is the best thing to happen to a shelter pet. Be that person. Adopt.”
When you visit the website and enter your zip code, you can find a shelter, search for available companion animals, and learn about pet adoption.
Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month is an important reminder that there are animals that need our help – not just in October, but year-round. If you can help a dog in any way, be it through donations, volunteering, or opening your home and heart, we hope you will.
Connect with The Shelter Pet Project
Photo: Millie courtesy of Daria Zeoli