October is national Adopt a Dog Month. This special focus on adopting a dog happens every year, as we try to really get the word out about the importance of adopting a pet instead of buying a pet. Every year, I wonder why we still need to have a special month dedicated to promoting adoption. Why isn't adopting a pet such the norm by now that we no longer need a special month to raise awareness?
Unfortunately, as a country, we haven't yet reached the point where adoption is always a first option. Open any newspaper or look at any classified website and you'll be overwhelmed at the number of breeders with puppies listed for sale. A vast majority of these breeders are not licensed with the Department of Agriculture, don't provide adequate vet care for the puppies or parents, and will give their puppies to anyone who shows up with a check. In addition, we still have puppy mill puppies sold in pet stores in Atlanta. Many of these puppies come from horrible breeding mills, where the #1 goal is to make a profit. While some states have tried to limit or even outlaw puppy mills, thousands of puppies are year are churned out in these horrible conditions. Many people will spend hundreds of dollars on one of these puppies, and when it gets sick or has a behavioral issue, the breeder disappears. The puppy then ends up at a county shelter, and it's up to the shelter and rescue groups to take care of this puppy.
Add to the tossed-aside puppy mill dogs the thousands of stray and abandoned dogs we see every day. How many times have you driven down the street and seen a dog wandering on his own? Almost all of these dogs are homeless or will never find their way back home if they do have a family. They enter the rescue cycle, too, if they are lucky enough to be picked up.
It sounds overwhelming and unsolvable, doesn't it? The good news is that this problem is fixable, but everyone, including you, needs to be part of the solution! Without the involvement of every single animal advocate in our community, we won't be able to do it.
So, what can you do?
1) Consider adoption first. When you are ready to add a new pooch to your family, consider adopting a pet from a shelter or rescue group. AARF will be glad to help you find that perfect match. Check out the AARF dogs currently available for adoption here.
2) Foster a dog (or cat). If you can't make a long-term commitment, but want to help, consider fostering. The number of pets any rescue group is able to help is almost always determined by the number of foster homes. You can fill out a foster application here.
3) Volunteer to walk dogs, help at an adoption day, transport pets, post flyers, etc. There is a volunteer opportunity for every person - ask us how you can get involved.
4) Donate. It seems obvious to say that every dollar makes a difference, but every dollar does make a difference. Make a donation to support the AARF adoption program here.