Adopt a Shelter Dog Month

Taking care of a pet is good for your health

Caring for a pet is certainly a huge responsibility, but it can also bring lots of fun, laughter, and great memories into your life. If you’re thinking about opening your home to a pet, adopting a homeless animal is something to consider. And since October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, maybe now’s the time to take that leap and find a dog who desperately needs a home.

The size of the shelter problem
According to Matt Bershadker, the President and CEO of The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), there are over three million dogs in shelters that need permanent homes. And this only includes dogs—not the many other types of animals in shelters looking for a forever home.

Ways you can help
If you’re in a position to do so, think about adopting a homeless animal. If you aren’t, there are many other ways to offer care and support. You can volunteer at a shelter; be a temporary, foster guardian of an animal (so that it’s more easily adoptable); and/or donate supplies or money to a shelter.

Pets are good for your health
You’re probably already aware of the advantages of owning a pet—you can have fun with them, teach them tricks, and (if they don’t mind) dress them up for Halloween! A dog can also offer a level of protection, by alerting you when there’s someone at the door or potential danger around a corner. But did you know that pets can also be good for your health?

You’ll get more exercise on a daily basis as you lace up your sneakers or throw on boots to head outside for dog walks, runs, or a play date at a dog park. Consistent exercise affects weight maintenance, builds stronger muscles and bones, and gives us more energy. Many studies show that owning a pet may also lead to overall heart health by decreasing blood pressure and lowering cholesterol levels. It also seems that time spent with pets results in us being calmer, less stressed, and happier. Dogs are highly sensitive animals, and we’re only starting to understand their abilities to tell if humans have certain types of cancer, such as breast, ovarian, lung, bladder, skin, and colon.

Think before you adopt
Adopting a dog is a big step. Caring for one takes time, dedication, patience, and money. If you have any doubts about your ability to handle that responsibility, it might be best to wait. Talk to other pet owners about what’s involved. Maybe take a friend’s dog for the weekend and see how you feel about the need for regular walks, the level of activity (and dirt!) in your house, and the additional noise and activity. Many shelter dogs will need training to overcome habits they may have learned with previous owners or while they were living in the shelter, which can mean additional costs as well as time and attention. Adopting a cat can be less involved, and still provides a lot of companionship (and health benefits)!

However, dogs bring an unimaginable amount of joy to our lives. And many people feel that shelter dogs make the best pets because they are so grateful! If you adopt a mutt (mixed breed), you’re also likely to avoid a lot of congenital health issues that purebred dogs face.

If you feel you are up for the early morning dog walks and can financially handle bills for the vet as well as food and grooming, then there’s no better month to find that furry companion! For more information, contact an ASPCA or other shelter near you. Good luck finding a furry friend!

This article is part of the Branford Hall weekly blog. We offer several professional training programs at ten campuses in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey. Reach out to us for more information today!