Wednesday, October 3, 2012

October Is Adopt An Animal Month

Depending on where you look, October may be listed as Adopt a shelter animal, dog or car specifically, or generally adopt a pet. However you word it, the cause is near and dear to my heart as an animal welfare volunteer in Milwaukee. I have talked about adopting pets and the state of homeless animals in the Milwaukee area before, so I won't get into it all here, but I will ask you to explore it and implore you to think about it next time you are looking for a pet. While any pet can bring joy into your household's life, an adopted pet adds that extra feeling because you are saving a pet and can truly find one that will fit in ways that buying one never can. Of course, we really mean adoption awareness, not that you should necessarily adopt this month - after all taking in an animal is an important decision left for when you can make it best.

Our newest adopted family member Lela after swimming
Whether you are looking for any old mutt, or even a pure bred pooch, you can find them via shelters and rescue agencies and when you do, your pet will likely be far more ready for your life than a bought pet regardless of the sources: breeder, store, etc. They will be fully vetted, may be older and beyond the puppy stage (teething, potty training), will have been with skilled people either in a home or shelter that can assess its personality, and may even have gotten training. For example, my wife and I just adopted a new dog - a 'puppy' - from a local shelter. She was 6 months old and came fully vetted by the organization (had all her shots and check ups for a 6 month old dog including being fixed and micro-chipped), was slightly older than a full-on puppy, and even had a chance to be assessed by a nose work trainer as a natural at searching - something I have wanted to do with a dog. We got to meet her, have her meet our dogs, and get a good description of her personality by the walkers and other caretakers there. We have had her just over 2 months and she fits in so well and has been so perfect as far as what we wanted from a dog.

So why should you adopt? In a post about the Brewer's Nyjer Morgan, I previously linked to the HSUS' Top Five Reasons to Adopt. I can't do much better than their list, though I hope the paragraph above points out some other benefits. My biggest reason is number five on HSUS' list: You won't be supporting puppy mills and pet stores. I am sure some of you have gotten pets from reputable breeders whether certified or not, but the chances of finding a good one are slim and if you buy from a store - be assured there are NO reputable sources that provide stores with pets.

Another personal example can illustrate this. One of our dogs that passed away last year, a border collie named Glory, was from a supposedly highly regarded breeder with champion herding border collies. Yes, he had a record of breeding winners and great working stock, but he wasn't all on the up and up. Glory was born deaf you see. Sure it can happen, certain breeds are predisposed usually by their coat color, but in the case of border collies it is in the merle coat which is recessive. If you know how those genes work, breeding two recessives together is more likely to produce the result. In Glory's case, the breeder knowingly bred two merle coat dogs together as they both were champions despite the fact they could - and did - produce deaf dogs. He had numerous litters with a deaf dog which he passed onto a rescue while he sold the others for high profit. Glory's litter in fact had two of five deaf dogs. Do you know how hard it is to find a home for a very active, smart, deaf dog? To him they were like production waste where you expect to discard some that just don't come out right. At least he took them to a rescue, many breeders will just kill a dog born deaf. Glory came with her AKC papers, but they meant nothing as her deafness precluded her from taking part in any official activities.

Here's a final thought, adopting an animal not only supports that animal, but it also supports other animals that will need help in the future. By supporting that organization you make it possible for them to stay in existence and help more animals.

Not sure what all the organizations are in your area? One resource can help you find any dog or cat (or other small animal) regardless of breed or organization: Petfinder. There you can search by breed, gender, age, or other qualities and see any and all available in your area. You can also check out AWARE - the Alliance of Wisconsin Animal Rehoming Efforts - which has a list of vetted (pun intended) organizations in Wisconsin. If you have any general questions on caring for your adopted pet here is a great resource.