National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day
By Audrey Pavia
Have you ever wished you could help all the homeless dogs and cats in the world? Since you are just one person, it’s impossible to save them all. However, you can make a huge difference in the life of at least one animal by adopting a shelter pet.
April 30 is National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day, which has been set aside to call attention to the plight of millions of unwanted dog and cats in the U.S. Although the efforts of animal welfare advocates over the last 10 years have reduced the number of homeless pets euthanized every year in this country, the numbers are still far too high: 1.5 million dogs and cats are put down in American shelters each year because they are unwanted, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty Animals.
In addition to spaying and neutering, and practicing responsible pet ownership, one great way we can reduce those tragic numbers is to adopt. Giving a home to a dog or cat from your local shelter means one less homeless pet facing euthanasia.
Although reducing the number of pets languishing in shelters is a great reason to adopt a shelter pet, there’s one other really good reason: Dogs and cats adopted from shelters can make terrific pets! Here are just a few reasons why:
- Many shelter pets are full-grown. While this may not seem like an advantage at first, it is if you think about it. Have you ever had a puppy you had to housetrain, and who wanted to chew up everything in your house? Have you ever had a kitten hanging from your drapes and attacking your ankles when you walk by? Adopting an adult dog or cat eliminates these issues and more. Adult dogs and cats are usually more relaxed and experienced in life. The vast majority of shelter dogs are leashed trained, and some even know basic commands. Many are housetrained too. Adult cats that come from shelters usually know how to use a litter box, and have outgrown the “kitten crazies.”
- Puppies and kittens too! If your heart is set on getting a puppy or a kitten, a shelter is the place to go. Most shelters have an abundance of young animals needing homes. While it’s easier for puppies and kittens to get homes than adult dogs, shelters still need people willing to take on the work involved in raising a young dog or cat.
- Shelter pets make great family members. It’s a myth that dogs and cats in shelters are there because they have behavior problems. The vast majority of shelter pets end up in this situation through no fault of their own. In fact, many shelter dogs are already housetrained and leash trained, and most shelter cats reliably use a litter box.
- Shelter pets are grateful. If you have ever rescued a dog or cat, you know what gratitude looks like. When you provide a home to a pet that has spent even a short time in a shelter, that pet knows she’s been rescued. The love and devotion you’ll receive from your shelter pet will make all your efforts worthwhile.
Remember supporting sanctuaries and rescues is also another way to help prevent pet homelessness. Please take a moment to visit one of ABC’s favorite rescues Best Friends Animal Society, who will be hosting an adoption event Pay it Forward from April 26th-28th.
How to Prepare for Your First Rescue Pet
By Sandy Robins
Congratulations on deciding to adopt pet. Being a pet parent is truly a very rewarding experience; there is nothing like the love and companionship of a fur kid. And, as with welcoming any new family member into your home, it’s important to do some advance preparations to ensure the transition is a positive experience for all concerned.
Being in a shelter/rescue environment can be a very daunting and fearful experience for any pet whether the stay was a few short hours, weeks, even months. It’s important to try and get as much background information about your new family member as possible from the shelter.
For example, if a pet has suffered abuse, they may be fearful of men if the abuser was male. If they have been starved, they may tend to want to over eat. Shelters have relationships with veterinarians, dog trainers, cat trainers, and behaviorists who can offer advice with regard to such issues and help you and your fur kid get to know one another and others in the household and build relationships based on trust. Similarly, if the dog or cat you are adopting was the only pet in its previous home, it may be more comfortable in a home with no other pets.
So, don’t be shy to ask questions and seek advice, and, even help down the road if its needed.
Preparing to bring a rescue pet into your home requires preparation. Often a shelter will do a home visit to ensure that it’s a secure place for a new pet. A good place to start is by checking the security of your home. This means checking things from window screens to ensuring there are no holes in the fence.
Rescue pets do not leave a shelter until they have been spayed or neutered and microchipped. But the onus is upon you to ensure the information is given to the microchip company is up to date.
When you bring your new family member home for the first time, allow them time to acclimatize before inviting friends over for a meet and greet. Cats settle better if first sequestered in one comfortable room for a few days before being allowed to explore under supervision.
Having all your basic pet essentials in place will allow your new friend to quickly settle down and know this is a forever home. Here’s a checklist of essential items to shop for in advance.
By nature, all dogs have a den instinct and a crate simulates this basic instinct and allows your dog to have its own personal space. For a young puppy, it’s a good idea to buy a matching cushion as well as foam bumpers for the sides, just like you would put in a baby’s crib.
FOOD AND WATER BOWLS
There is no shortage of stylish food and water bowls that will slot in beautifully with your home décor. Stainless steel, glass or ceramic bowls are hygienic because they as dishwasher safe and thus easy to keep clean. A drinking fountain is an excellent idea to ensure that your pet has a constant supply of fresh running water.
Both dogs and cats like to have a personal bed even if they will cuddle in with you.
A soft nylon with a quick-release clasp is an ideal starter collar for a young puppy. Because puppies grow in leaps and bounds, pet owners often find themselves adjusting the collar on a weekly basis. You can splurge on something fabulous for an adult dog. Similarly, its good idea for cats to wear a collar with an ID tag as well as a tag with the microchip information.
HARNESS AND LEASH
Invest in a leash that matches the collar. And consider a soft harness to complete the ensemble. Attaching the leash to the harness avoids any pulling and tugging on the neck area and gives you better control when you are out and about.
In many states it’s now the law to ensure your dog is restrained in a moving vehicle. If you don’t plan to have a car crate, it’s essential to purchase some other form of restraint. There are lots of options. Be sure to purchase one that has been safety-tested.
Just like kids, a dog or cat can never have too many toys! For dogs, be sure to purchase action, distraction and comfort toys. Cats love wand toys so they can pounce and play and, of course, love everything that includes catnip.
Take advice on basic grooming tools in terms of your dog or cat’s coat type. A grooming glove covered with a knobby rubber finish or a special hair-grabbing material is always useful. Make sure your grooming box includes a good pair of nail clippers.
LITTERBOX AND LITTER
Always be sure to purchase a spacious box and place is away from a high traffic zone in the home.
Spending lots of quality time with your new rescue pet helps them adjust. Everything, from preparing and serving a meal to grooming are great bonding experiences.