BY DR. ROBIN GANZERT
Along with pumpkin spice and everything nice, October is known as a month of change. With the leaves turning and the weather finally cooling down, people and pets alike are starting to snuggle up on the couch and enjoy fall. Dogs young and old are looking for new homes before the cold of winter settles in. That’s why every October my organization, American Humane, encourages animal lovers to consider adopting a dog from a local shelter or rescue group in honor of our nationally celebrated Adopt-a-Dog Month.
Despite a recent uptick in shelter adoptions, each year an estimated 670,000 dogs are still euthanized at shelters across the country before they can find their forever homes. While all dogs need a loving home, often the hardest ones to place for local shelters are older animals. Lots of those pets are overlooked by adopters, but there are so many reasons why dogs over the age of six make ideal furry family members.
For one, senior dogs tend to be less rambunctious than younger dogs — a great quality for families with young children. Also, they’re often already house-trained, spayed or neutered, and have had other behavioral issues addressed, which makes them a great fit for people with busy lifestyles.
For those who already have all the pets that they can handle, there are still steps that can be taken to help celebrate dogs in our lives. Spaying and neutering pets prevents unwanted and unplanned puppies. It also has been shown to increase the lifespan of the animal while reducing behavioral problems.
Also, make sure to microchip and tag your dogs. You never know when a door latch will break or a hole under a fence will be dug. If you’ve taken these simple identification steps, you’ll be reunited with your best friend more quickly than if you hadn’t.
And don’t forget, if you can’t open your home permanently to a new best friend, there are many shelters that will work with individuals to foster animals temporarily. You get a pet on a short-term basis while the shelter finds the pet a forever home, and you keep a spot open at the shelter, which helps an animal that normally would not have had that opportunity. When the fostering is over, you can choose to foster a new animal or take a break, which is perfect for people with seasonally busy schedules.
With so many ways to help man’s best friend, October is the perfect time to help the animals in our communities — whether it’s by adopting a senior dog, fostering a puppy, or microchipping the pets you already have. This fall you can make a difference in the life of an animal, and perhaps gain a new best friend.