In 1998, over 1 million puppies were registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC). Ten breeds comprise over 50% of the puppies registered with the AKC:
1. Labrador Retriever
2. Golden Retriever
3. German Shepherd
9. Yorkshire Terrier
The Last Supper
It is estmiated that 7.2 million dogs and cats were killed in shelters in 1998. One third of the dogs processed in animal shelters are purebreds. Additionally, thousands more of these purebred dogs were offered to new homes through the classifi ed ads. Nationwide, only 10% of the animals in shelters were adopted. For every human born, there are 7 puppies and kittens born. Obviously, there are not enough families for all of the animals born in this country. Hence, we as a nation spend an estimated 2 billion dollars each year rounding up, housing, euthanizing, and disposing of homeless animals.
Where Have All These Animals Come From? You would be surprised to learn some of the answers. People abandon and turn in pets very often for casual reasons. Usually, they are reasons of convenience:
1. We are moving out of town.
2. We just had a child and no longer have time.
3. I am going on vacation and don’t want to pay for a kennel.
5. We are moving to an apartment.
6. Divorce or remarriage.
7. I work full-time and didn’t understand the needs of a dog.
8. My child went to college and it was his/her dog.
9. The dog was bought for show and it wasn’t a champion.
10. The death or grave illness of the owner.
A common reason that many pets are brought to shelters is because of unwanted behavior problems that could be corrected with proper training. Experienced trainers know they can evaluate a mature dog and direct that dog to abandon bad habits. Many of these dogs are looking for companionship and direction. Because an adult dog can be evaluated as to temperament and suitablity, some are adopted out of these shelters as hearing assistance dogs, disability assistance dogs and even guide dogs. But, most are yearning to be simple companions.
Enter The Rescuers. Shelters often call rescuers to come in to take a dog out of their shelter and therefore free up a space for another dog in need. They know that the rescuers often have pre-screened, preapproved homes for the dogs. Rescuers for particular breeds know what it takes to manage their breed of dog and are in the best position to make a suitable match. Rescuers are interested in making the best match, even if it means temporarily housing the dog for many months. At these foster homes, dogs are evaluated for temperament, health, compatibility with other dogs, people, children, and possibly cats and other critters. When a person adopts a dog who has been evaluated in a home situation by an experienced rescuer, they can be far more assured of a compatible pet than by choosing a puppy which, even under the best evaluation circumstances, is a gamble. The internet is a good source for finding rescuers and breed information, particularly when the information is from a rescue website.
Remember, you can save the life of a needy dog even if your heart is set on a particular breed. But, please, first do your homework and find out not only the good points about the breed, but thoroughly research the negatives. All dogs were bred by humans for a purpose. Some were developed to be lap dogs, some are hard wired to be barkers, those that were bred to nip at the heels of sheep may nip at the heels of children. If you don’t happen to have sheep, hunting packs need to get along with other dogs and they may be noisy, some breeds were developed to have high prey instincts, others have low prey instincts, and/or a low key demeanor.
If you are intersted in gettting a dog or cat or any pet, contact any of the non-profit groups listed in our non-profit section. These are dedicated people, many of whom are volunteers. You can also contribute generously to these groups or become a volunteer yourself.
Brought to you by Lori Levine, Project BREED. Visit www.projectbreed.org.