3 Steps to Successfully Adopt vs. Shop

August 21 is International Homeless Animals Days, an opportunity to build awareness and take action for animals worldwide who are in need of a safe, loving and stable home. According to the ASPCA, approximately 6.5 million companion animals enter animal shelters in the U.S. alone every year and approximately 1.5 million of them are euthanized. 

The good news is that these numbers are down. Thanks to constant effort and awareness, the number of dogs and cats euthanized in U.S. shelters annually has declined from approximately 2.6 million in 2011. But there is still work to be done. Many individuals still opt to purchase from a reputable breeder. Their reasons, as explained by Jennifer Skiba, owner of Namastay Training, range from love of the breed to health guarantees and beyond. However, with a little patience and searching, you can help a homeless animal find a home, eliminate its suffering and bring added joy to your life or that of someone you love.

  1. Utilize Online Databases. Gone are the days of searching newspaper classifieds or even individual websites to find a pet to adopt. Well-developed, frequently updated databases make looking for a pet online a hassle-free, productive experience. Even though you can’t actually pet the animals, you can gather valuable information, choose a potential pet, and then meet him or her in person. Both PetFinder and Adopt-a-Pet allow users to search for cats, dogs and other pets such as birds, rabbits, pigs and more by geographical location, sex and age. Results yield available animals not only from local shelters but also from rescues who operate solely through foster homes. Harmony client Kim Daly, utilized such a database to find her next family pet, a 3-month old black Labrador/shepherd mix named Bristol. “As soon as I saw his picture, I knew he was for us. We made contact with the rescue and then attended their next adoption event where we met him in person and fell in love. He grew up alongside my young girls and continues to be a loyal companion to us all. With consistent training and positive reinforcement, he is a dog we can bring anywhere and introduce to anyone. We love all 110 pounds of him!”

  2. Put in the Effort. Choosing the right pet to adopt starts before you ever bring one home. Researching breeds and temperament and choosing a pet that fits your lifestyle is imperative to finding a fit that will make both you and the pet happy. Once you bring the animal home, expect a transition period as the pet adjusts to its new environment, including smells, sounds, routine and family members, including other pets.Take the time to earn its trust and expect that you will need to conduct some amount of training to set behavioral expectations. Feeding, grooming, playing and walking are all daily opportunities to both earn trust and train your new furry friend, setting the foundation for a long and mutually beneficial relationship.

  3. Volunteer Your Time. No time or room for additional pets in your home, but still want to help homeless pets? Support shelters, rescues and overall adoptions by volunteering your time. While many shelters have a small, paid staff, they rely heavily on volunteers to assist with feeding, bathing, playing, evaluating, and walking the pets they serve. By spending time with these animals, you help keep them healthy both mentally and physically. They learn to trust and love, making them more suitable for adoption and more likely to find their forever home.

In addition, you can consider running a food or pet supply drive to keep shelters stocked with the essentials they need to continue operating every day. The Community Resources page of our website offers a list of both shelters and rescue groups that can use your assistance. Contact each to learn more about their individual needs and requirements. 

The biggest advantage of adopting a pet or supporting shelters and rescues is the ability to give a lucky dog or cat a loving home and you will forever be their hero. Today, and every day, we can all be a voice for homeless animals, helping to mitigate their suffering and harnessing their energy to bring more joy to the world.