October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month. In the face of displaced pets from natural disasters, we wanted to highlight the ever-present need for loving homes. Were you born a dog person? Did you become one with a special companion along the way? Would this be your very first pet? Wherever you’re at in your journey, take a moment to think about opening up your heart and your home to a shelter dog in need.
The Surprising Health Benefits of Dogs
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention actually have an entire section dedicated to pets & people on their site. This is due to the fact that research seems to show a link between owning a pet and a healthy body and mind. A shelter dog could help with everything from lowering your blood pressure to improving your mental health. It’s not surprising that pets can help with issues like loneliness. Groups that especially struggle with feeling isolated — like seniors — have been shown to respond well to having a pet by their side. Your shelter dog will be there to greet you at the door, get you out of the house to stay active, and maybe keep you on your toes with a little bit of havoc.
Photo by Alicia Gauthier on Unsplash
The Sad Statistics on Shelter Pets
Over 3 million dogs enter shelters every year across the country. And while that number has actually been falling in recent years, many shelter dogs are still in need of loving homes right now. But are these pets at risk? According to the ASPCA, over half a million of those dogs are euthanized each year as well. While we know that not every animal can be saved, there are thousands of sweet pets that lose their lives. Have you considered a rescue?
Shelter Dog vs. Dog Breeder
Only about 20% of dogs are adopted from a shelter. About a third come from breeders, many with questionable reputations. While there are plenty of reasons people choose purebred dogs, it’s often not a great option for most families. People often purchase their purebred dog as a puppy, with little idea of how their personality will turn out. A shelter dog may come with a list of behaviors from their last owner. This can include bad habits, but also notes about how the dog loves kids, or gets along well with cats. If you do love the idea of a purebred dog, did you know that about 25% of dogs in shelters are thought to be purebred? You can absolutely have your (bone-shaped) cake and eat it too!
Remember, if you’re unable to adopt a shelter dog, there are many ways to help still. The ASPCA and Humane Society both do amazing work. You can always look into local chapters or seek out a small shelter in your city.