Chances are that anyone reading this article has seen a television commercial, Facebook post, or print advertisement addressing the situation facing millions of homeless pets both here in the United States and around the world.
According to ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) there are approximately 7.6 million companion animals that enter animal shelters each and every year. In that overwhelming number of homeless pets, approximately one-third of them are adopted. The unfortunate part, however, is that not all of the shelter animals find happy forever homes. Due to overcrowding, lack of funding, and local laws nearly 2.7 million of those animals are euthanized annually. The remaining 26% of dogs and 5% of cats that are brought into shelters as strays are reunited with their owners, oftentimes, with the help of an identification chip that has the contact details for the stray pet’s family.
If you presently own a pet or are considering adoption, please take the time to properly register your pet via microchip* and always make sure your pet wears identification tags.
Of the 170 million+ pets owned and living in households in the U.S., only 29% are adopted from shelters and rescues. And, even though there has been a big decline in the number of dogs sold through breeders and pet stores, still nearly 30% are purchased through these outlets. Pet stores can legally sell puppies throughout most of the United States but, thankfully, certain states and/or jurisdictions have banned the practice of allowing the sale of pets from commercial breeding operations. For an up-to-date list of places that have banned local pet sales, check out the list on the Best Friends site.
You may be wondering what difference it makes if you adopt a pet through a shelter or purchase through a breeder or pet store. To make it perfectly simple, adopting dogs or cats through shelters can save lives and stop the vicious cycle of multiple pregnancies and the practice of inbreeding which oftentimes leads to major medical issues in the offspring and horrific puppy-mill conditions.
There are numerous resources available for adopting pets and BestFriends.org can help get you started on a search for your companion. It is also worth checking out Adoptapet.com and Petfinder.com for available pets throughout the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
I was also recently introduced to a global network International Street Dog Foundation that helps dogs in extremely dire situations throughout the world. These innocent dogs are born and raised on the streets and are perhaps the most underrepresented group of dogs in need.
For anyone that has ever traveled to certain parts of Mexico, New Delhi, and Kuala Lumpur you most likely have come across some of the hundreds of thousands of dogs born on the streets. Every minute of every day is a challenge for these animals to stay alive and also, in certain places they are often victims of becoming a dinner entrée in some of the world’s dog-eating countries.
I hope that if you are considering a new companion you first ask yourself a few questions:
- Am I ready to welcome a dog/cat into my home?
- Can I provide for the dog/cat?
- Would I be able to keep the dog/cat up to date on shots and vet visits?
- If the dog/cat needed special medical attention, would I be able to provide it?
- Would I allow the dog/cat to be an important member of my family?
- Do I have a resource to care for the dog if I needed to travel or became ill?
- Would I regularly be able to walk the dog or empty the cat’s litter box?
- Is the dog/cat compatible with other members of the family or other household pets?
- If the dog/cat has behavioral or trauma-related issues, would I seek out the help needed for the pet?
Please, also take the time to ask yourself some additional and extremely important questions before adopting. My friends at YourDogAdvisor.com has compiled a thorough 20-question list that every person wanting to adopt a dog should take the time to consider. The article can be found here.
Be a part of the change to help control pet overpopulation by making sure you have your pets spayed or neutered.
Please consider adoption first. There are so many loving, adorable, and wonderful dogs and cats looking for a second chance in a forever home.
If you cannot bring a dog or cat into your home, you can still help via the form of a donation. All of the links mentioned in this article accept donations that directly help the pets in need.
Remember, in most cases of pet adoption the saying holds true….”Who Rescued Who?”
*Make sure you complete the paperwork that comes with the microchip and send it into the registry or on-line. Also, if you move or your phone number changes, make sure to update it with your microchip service.