Today, July 23rd, in coordination with Be the Change for Animals, Dog Rescue Success and Blog Catalog, bloggers all over the world are blogging to promote the importance of dog rescue and adoption.Anyone who reads Bringing up Bella knows she is a rescue dog. It says so right there on the sidebar. --->
It's also probably no surprise to anyone who's read even just a few posts on the blog that I am a vocal (and active) advocate for shelter and rescue dogs. My Saturday's Dog series features dogs available for adoption through local shelters and rescues. Stories about rescue transports and adoption events make occasional appearances. Even the stray URGENT request to find a dog a new home can find its way in to a post.
And yet, on this day of world-wide blogging to make a difference in the life of rescue and shelter dogs, I find I have no idea what I want to say. How can I talk to anyone about the joy of adopting a dog from a shelter when I'm writing a blog about how messed up my own dog is?
Speechless? Not quite.
I certainly would like to encourage anyone reading this post to consider getting their next dog from a shelter or a rescue organization.
I would also like to rail at the world for allowing the current tragic state of "man's best friend" to persist:
- The HSUS estimates that animal shelters care for 6-8 million dogs and cats every year in the United States, of whom approximately 3-4 million are euthanized.
- In Puerto Rico, a U.S. Territory and Bella's homeland, of every 100 dogs that enter a municipal shelter, only 3 make it out alive.
- "Between 2 million and 4 million dogs are born in U.S. puppy mills every year."
And I would like to dispel a myth about shelter dogs even though my own may seem to validate it.
Myth: Shelter dogs are damaged dogs.
Studies show that most shelter dogs were given up for reasons that have more to do with the human than the animal. In fact, the top 3 reasons for animal surrenders are:
1) Owners are moving,The vast majority of dogs I have met and worked with in rescue and shelters would make wonderful family pets. They are rigorously assessed for temperament. I have had as many as 5 dogs crated in my Subaru Forester without a hint of drama or reactivity. Several have given me kisses. Others have fallen asleep in my lap.
2) Landlord does not allow pets and
3) Too many animals in household.
Yes, some rescue/shelter dogs carry the emotional and physical scars of their history as Bella does. Bella's genetic hodgepodge indicates she is a street dog born of a street dog born of a street dog. Her instincts and sense of self-preservation kept her alive in impossibly hostile circumstances. She bears the scars of physical abuse on her back, malnourishment on her face and emotional trauma in her behavior.
But Bella was deliberately chosen by us with full knowledge that she had 'issues'. No one at the shelter tried to pretend she didn't. They gave her to us because they knew me as a former volunteer. They knew my commitment and were aware of my handling skills.
Every dog should be so carefully placed by the rescue/shelter and no dog should ever be purchased or adopted without a full understanding of the responsibilities required to appropriately raise a dog. The onus is on both the prospective owner and the shelter to see that through.
|Bruised, not broken.|
Breaking the cycle
As animal advocates, we need to work on multiple levels to help change the condition of our "best friends". We need to promote and subsidize spay/neuter programs. We need to work diligently to shut down puppy mills and over-breeding for simple greed. We need to educate the public and we need to continue to save the lives of dogs who find themselves, through no fault of their own, homeless, abused, neglected and abandoned.
Finally, I'd like to ask anyone looking to add a dog to their family to please consider carefully the commitment you are about to undertake. Before you adopt from a shelter or buy from a reputable breeder, please educate yourself.
Dogs are not trifles. They are living, breathing, thinking, feeling, sentient beings who can live up to 15+ years. They are a commitment. They cost money. They have accidents, injuries and illnesses. They need to be taught and trained. And they need someone who is going to stick by them when the new baby comes or the furniture color changes. They require your time, attention and energy.
And for all of that, they will give you nothing more than endless affection, devotion and entertainment. Let's try to do better by them, shall we?
Ways you can help:
Adopt your next companion
Donate to a local dog rescue organization
Foster a dog
Volunteer at a local shelter or rescue organization
Share these posts across all forms of social media and encourage others to participate!