Adopt a dog from a shelter
Get good green karma and practice animal altruism by adopting a dog from a shelter. This will help reduce the population of unwanted and abandoned animals in overcrowded and resource-strapped shelters.
How to adopt a dog from a shelter
- Don't practice impulse shopping. Sadly, there are more dogs that need homes than homes to care for them. By adopting a dog from a shelter you provide a home to an otherwise unwanted pet, while making space in the shelter for a second. Before you decide to adopt, consider this extremely crucial question: will you be able to provide a stable, caring home for your dog and can you afford veterinary care and the cost of supplies throughout its life? If you have doubts check out Pets 911 to help you decide if adopting a dog is right for you.
- Made up your mind? If and when you've decided to adopt, locate an animal shelter in your area. Look under "animal shelter", "animal control", or "Humane Society" in the Yellow Pages to find a shelter or canine adoption agency near you. Pet adoption has also gone virtual with many online canine adoption agencies like Petfinder, Pets911, and 1-800-Save-A-Pet.com placing hundreds of pooches and kitties in loving homes.
- How much is that doggy in the window? Once a certain canine has won your heart and you've made a final choice, the an adoption agency will require you to complete an application. Most animal organizations are primarily concerned with your ability and willingness to permanently and adequately care for a pet throughout its entire life, so an interview, references, and other steps might be required. In addition, you may have to pay an adoption fee, which varies by the breed, age, and condition of the dog.
Adopting a dog from a shelter helps you go green because…
- You help to alleviate overcrowding problems at shelters.
- You'll save the life of a dog that might otherwise be euthanized.
Dogs that end up in shelters are usually stray or unwanted pets that have been found on the streets or left at the shelter to be cared for. Unwanted dogs are often the result from neglecting to neuter pets. Stray dogs that have not been neutered or spayed can help perpetuate the feral dog population (dogs that have never had human contact and survive on their own). These populations can sometimes carry diseases that are later spread to wildlife populations and humans. Additionally, bacteria, viruses, and nutrients from the feces of uncared for dogs can pollute water sources when washed away by rain into storm drainage systems. At beaches in some areas, visitors are prohibited from entering the water due to high bacteria counts. Scientific studies confirm that dog feces is a main contributing factor to this pollution.
Shelters: A few numbers
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), between 8 and 12 million companion animals (dogs, cat, and others) enter shelters each year, and between 5 and 9 million are eventually euthanized, often because no one will adopt them. Of the dogs that arrive at shelters, 60 percent end up being destroyed. Animal shelters are overpopulated with both lost pets and unwanted animals. Of all the dogs taken in as pets, about 10 percent to 20 percent are adopted from shelters or rescues (one-quarter of them purebreds)—nearly the same number that are purchased from breeders.
Comparison shopping: pet stores vs. shelters
While many dog breeders are reputable and responsible, puppies sold in pet stores often come from large, substandard dog breeding operations called puppy mills (reputable breeders will not sell dogs in pet stores). In puppy mills, dogs are usually housed in overcrowded conditions without adequate veterinary care, food, water, or sufficient socialization. Breeding pairs are bred as often as possible to maximize profits. When buying puppies from pet stores, over the Internet, or from unknown breeders, there is a risk of perpetuating and supporting a cruel industry, as well as bringing home a sick puppy. Dogs from puppy mills are often diagnosed with ailments such as respiratory infections and pneumonia, and may have genetic defects like hip dysplasia.
In contrast, upon arrival in a shelter, each dog is given a thorough behavioral assessment. This screening helps identify fears, needs, temperament, and the personality of each animal. Information from the screening will help place the animal with the best possible adoptive family. Only healthy animals that haven't displayed dangerous or aggressive behaviors are available for adoption through shelters. Before any animal is adopted, shelters require that they be spayed or neutered to prevent the birth of more unwanted pets. Shelters often provide this service, as well as vaccinations, at a reduced price.
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals - Shelter Outreach: Fast Facts: US Animal Shelters
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals - Fight Cruelty: 10 Ways You Can Help Fight Puppy Mills
- American Society for the Prevention of Animal Cruelty - Fight Cruelty: Puppy Mills
- Humane Society of the United States - Common Questions About Animal Shelters and Animal Control