October is Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog-Month, sponsored by the ASPCA.
Obviously, the point of this program is to get dogs out of the shelter and into homes. However, the program also is designed to help potential adopters make good and permanent choices. The theme for this year is "Meet Your Match."
"October is the time when people are back into the swing of things," says Jacque Schultz with ASPCA. "People aren't thinking of vacations and they are in the midst of a routine, which is a great time to introduce a new dog into a home. October and November give a couple of months to get some training in before the holidays."
During October, Americans everywhere are encouraged to visit their nearby animal shelter. Every year, millions of dogs enter shelters, but fewer than 20 percent are adopted from those shelters. The ASPCA promotes the "Make Pet Adoption Your First Option" message throughout the year in order to attempt to reach their ultimate goal: an end to the euthanasia of all adoptable animals.
The real solution, aside from spaying and neutering, rests in making good choices when adopting a dog. There is a dog for everyone -- for everyone who wants to own a dog, that is. But not every dog is for every person or family.
A dog wants and needs to become a member of the family and in order to do that, careful thought must be given to matching a dog's breeding, background and temperament to your lifestyle. There are hyper dogs, hunting dogs, working dogs and couch potatoes. It is not fair to bring an active working breed into a home where the dog is alone a lot of the time and when the family is home, they most enjoy watching TV.
If you do not have time for a dog, do not adopt one. It is not helping the pet overpopulation, nor is it fair, for a dog to be brought into a home where he is not really wanted. Dog ownership is a commitment. Dogs need training, walks, attention, food and most importantly, love. It is way too easy to walk into the Humane Society and find a dog that you think is perfect. And you feel good walking out with your new pet, thinking that you have saved a life. But if it is not a good match, it will end unhappily for you and for the dog.
The library and Internet are wonderful resources to assist you in finding a good match. The American Kennel Club website has wonderful information about understanding the inherent behaviors of various breeds. Whether you adopt a purebred or a mix, the behavior of that breeding is there.
Another very helpful website, which operates in cooperation with the ASPCA, is Petfinders. com There is a wealth of information about choosing the right dog for you and your family.
Take some time. Do your homework. Find your perfect match at an animal shelter this month and adopt a shelter dog, says the ASPCA. Visit the Payson Humane Society.
Pets can also suffer from domestic violence.
October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Pets, as well as people, suffer injury, emotional trauma and even death in an abusive home.
Victims refuse to leave a dangerous environment because they have no place to go with their pets and no money. A local program, as yet unnamed, is being set up to care for these pets. A few great volunteers have come forward.
As we organize, we realize there are needs for supplies and equipment. If you have a crate, outdoor kennel, kennel panels or other items that you no longer need, please contact us at either (928) 476-2239 or (928) 468-0789.
Since most of those who would be fostering a dog already have a dog or two, it might be necessary to separate dogs in order to deal with individual needs. If you want to help with this program in any way, call one of the numbers above.
Christy Wrather is a columnist for the Payson Roundup. She can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com, or by snail-mail at HC1 Box 210, Strawberry, AZ 85544.