October is the official Adopt-A-Shelter Dog Month, notably shared with National Pet Wellness, Black Cat Awareness, and Pitbull Awareness Month. The first week of October is also National Walk Your Dog Week, so grab a pet and a pumpkin spice latte, and you're all set to go! Right? Well, sort of.
While October may encourage you to cozy up in a sweater and adopt all the dogs and kitties of the world, the choice and commitment to adopting a shelter dog, or any pet for that matter, has a few important steps to it. Preparing your household and lifestyle for a new member of the family is one, but unlike buying a puppy from a breeder, shelter pets have a variety of backgrounds which may affect their behavior when entering a new home. The knowledge of where a pet has previously been is a great tool to learning about your new best buddy, but sometimes your pet's backstory might be a mystery. In this case, talk to the shelter about any behavioral concerns, and make sure to research and prepare for any special proofing or adjustments an overly anxious or handicapped pet may require.
After thorough preparation, it's time to choose! Animals of all ages can be found in shelters, so know when considering adopting from a shelter that puppies, kittens, and their adult counterparts are all available to find homes. Older pets may even come with the perks of previous training, and most shelters will spay/neuter pets in their care, with no additional charge to you! Shelters often give full health-screenings, including vaccinations and heartworm tests, and may also microchip the pets in their care. Even more, shelters also have the choice of mixed breeds, which tend to have fewer health issues compared to pure breds.
To search for available pets up for adoption in shelters near you, sites like Petfinder can search by location for a variety of animals, with extra tools to sort by breed, size, and gender. You may also search directly on the MSPCA Boston website, or other shelters and rescue groups like the Marshfield Animal Shelter, the Scituate Animal Shelter, PAWS New England, Last Hope K9 Rescue, or the Greyhound Pets of America. If you bring home a new buddy this month, congratulations knowing you helped a pet in need! Happy October!
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