March is Adopt a Shelter Pet Month
Welcome to March! This month, we at the Clark Fork Veterinary Clinic are shining a light on the adoption of shelter pets. In the United States, the most common places were families acquire cats and dogs are from acquaintances/family members. Following that, 28% of dogs are purchased from breeders and 29% of dogs and cats are adopted from shelters. Adopting a shelter pet can be a great addition to the family! Let’s raise that 29% even higher!
One common misconception about pets in shelters is that they are there because there is something wrong with them. This misconception can understandably result in hesitation to adopt. However, the reality is that many pets are in shelters because they were picked up as stray animals and subsequently taken there. In fact, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), nationwide nearly twice as many animals enter shelters as strays as opposed to being relinquished by their owners. Of those animals, only a small fraction, and typically dogs more so than cats, are able to be reunited with their previous families. (As a side note, microchipping greatly increases the likelihood of a lost pet being reunited with its family. For more information on microchipping, please see our October article on microchipping for more information.)
What about those that are relinquished by their owners, you might ask. Nearly one-third (29%) of dog relinquishment to shelters in the United States is due to a place of residence not allowing pets. The next most common reasons are not enough time, death/divorce, and behavior issues (10% each). That’s right – behavior issues are the most common “issue” leading to relinquishment, and even then are only about 10% of cases. For cats, the most common reasons for relinquishment at that they are not allowed in the home (21%) or a family member suffers allergies (11%).
The result of all of this is US shelters full of wonderful cats and dogs looking for forever homes. Unfortunately, many never find them. Again, from the ASPCA statistical website, each year approximately 7.6 million dogs and cats enter shelters nationwide. Approximately 2.7 million are adopted annually, and 2.7 million are euthanized. To put that another way, each year just as many cats and dogs are euthanized in US shelters as are adopted. Let’s work to change that!
Adopting a shelter pet is a great way to bring a pet into your family. Technician Jaycee Wood has adopted several dogs from shelters. When discussing her dog Benny, who came from Pintler Pets in Anaconda, Jaycee had this to say, “Benny is my daughter’s best friend. We adopted him just over a year ago, and he’s an irreplaceable family member.” Adding a new family member isn’t for everyone, we understand. Have no fear, there are still ways you can help! Shelters are frequently running on shoe-string budgets, meager supplies, and volunteer efforts. They work diligently to balance animal welfare, community welfare, and financial realities. Contacting a local shelter to learn more about what donations they are in need of or how to volunteer your time is a great way to lend a hand.
For the month of March, we here at Clark Fork will be doing our part by showcasing an adoptable pet from either Pintler Pets of Anaconda or PAWHS in Deer Lodge each day. We will also have an adoptable cat in clinic for interested families to visit and interact with. Please feel free to contact our clinic with any pet or shelter-related questions you may have.
Happy Shelter Awareness Month from Dr. Samantha Thomas!