October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month

dreamstime_xs_28964382Every October, we take a moment to remember how many dogs are languishing in shelters across the United States and Canada. The reasons why dogs end up in shelters vary, but the most common reasons are lack of preparation and lack of financial resources.

While I can understand that people have to make difficult choices between feeding their children and keeping their dogs when they fall on hard times, there is no excuse for the lack of preparation that results in their dropping their dogs off at a shelter. The scenario is this: a family purchases a puppy either as a gift for a young child or as a companion for the whole family. Once home, the puppy acts like a puppy – chewing shoes, making messes in the house, and being a nuisance in general. Big surprise! But a family who wasn’t expecting this behavior soon gives up trying to train the puppy, deciding that it’s just not worth the trouble, and the dog is sent to a shelter where, more often than not, he is euthanized.

Another possible scenario has a family bringing home a breed that doesn’t match their lifestyle. They want a couch potato, but they bring home a dog with high energy and exercise needs like a Labrador Retriever. They are unprepared and unable to provide for the dog, decide that it’s just not worth the trouble, and the dog is sent to a shelter…

Clearly, education is key. People need to do their homework before bringing home a dog. Shelters and breeders need to make sure their customers understand what they are getting into, before the dog goes home with a family ill-prepared to make a commitment of at least 10 years.

The other important factor is spaying and neutering dogs who are not intended for breeding. The root cause of our shelter problem is that there are just too many dogs in the world. If you are not a professional breeder, you really don’t need to have an unaltered dog. Most communities have low-cost spay / neuter clinics if money is a problem, and don’t let anyone tell you that an unaltered dog is healthier. The truth is that spaying or neutering your dog can drastically reduce his or her risk of cancer.

Please, if you do nothing else this month, commit to helping keep dogs out of shelters!

Until next time,
Good day, and good dog!

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