Adopt A Shelter Dog Month!
Over 6.5 million homeless, companion animals find their way to the country’s shelters every year. The number is extravagant, but the good news is it has decreased from 7.2 million in 2011 – thanks to the efforts of shelters, supporters and adopters. Unfortunately, this number is still too high, resulting in approximately 1.5 million animals being euthanized in shelters across the country - 860,000 cats and 670,000 dogs. On the flip side, a wonderful 3.2 million are adopted to loving homes – 1.6 million cats and 1.6 million dogs – and nearly 710,000 stray animals are returned to their owners (aspca.org).
Of the approximately 1,300 homeless and neglected animals the SPCA Albrecht Center takes in, nearly 42% of our annual intakes are dogs. From newborn puppies to seniors, small dogs to giant lapdogs, dogs that prefer furry companions to only-child dogs, we see it all, but the goal is always the same: to find FOREVER, loving homes for each and every adoptable pup. Luckily, with the incredible, compassionate help of all of you, 97% of the homeless dogs we care for each year meet that goal in the arms of their forever families.
The love these animals finally get to experience when adopted is not one-sided. The human-animal bond is just that, a mutual, unconditional, undeniable bond between an animal and their person, and something experienced by our adopters when they take home their new best friend. The love between a forever person and their furry family member is a beautiful thing and a companionship that is reciprocated every day. At the SPCA Albrecht Center, we get the pleasure of hearing about these bonds through ‘Happy Tails’ stories, where adopters update us on the adventures and life of our adopted shelter pets: LetLoveLive.org/Happy-Tails.
Before their dreams come true of having a home of their own, the homeless dogs we take in come from many different backgrounds. Some come to us as strays, picked up by Animal Control or brought in by a Good Samaritan. Some were already in a loving home, but their owners found themselves in a situation where they could no longer care for them – moving, financial hardship, job loss, lifestyle change, etc. Some were transferred from other shelters. And, some were in abuse, neglect or hoarding situations.
With every animal coming from their own, individual experience, the first step when they enter our doors is a veterinary and behavioral evaluation. As a no-kill shelter, the SPCA Albrecht Center only euthanizes in extreme medical or behavioral situations in which the animal cannot be rehabilitated, so this initial step is crucial and never taken lightly by our staff. We are dedicated to ensuring each of our shelter pets are both happy and healthy while in our care.
During this time, new intakes are housed in the back rooms until they are ready for adoption, but still receive food, water, toys, comfy beds, treats, vet care and lots of love from our staff. Approximately half of the dogs in our shelter are waiting in the back rooms until their time to shine on the adoption floor. After they are cleared behaviorally and medically (including spay/neuter surgery, vaccinations, microchip and any further medical treatment), they are moved to our Dog Adoption Center to await their forever families.
On the adoption floor, these pups receive their routine care, with the added benefit of time with our wonderful team of volunteers, who take them on walks, read to them, and enjoy their company in each dog’s room. Some dog-friendly pups even get to play with each other in groups outside!
Day in and day out, our dogs wait patiently for their person to walk through the doors. For some, they go home the same day they are moved to the adoption floor. For others, their wait is much longer. Dogs like Tyson, who has been waiting since July because he requires a home without cats that will continue his heartworm treatment, that need special homes.
Though the SPCA Albrecht Center is a no-kill shelter, the dogs on our adoption floor are not out of the woods yet. For dogs who wait far too long for their person, the chances of behavior issues developing lingers in the back of our minds. No animal was meant for a life inside a shelter, no matter how well they are treated, and the stress can sometimes become too much. In addition to this fear, the longer animals wait, the less room we have to take in more animals that need help. This why we still feel a sense of urgency as a no-kill shelter to find each animal their perfect person.
In October, as we celebrate shelter dogs with Adopt A Shelter Dog Month, we urge you to consider adopting one of the many amazing pups patiently waiting for you at the SPCA Albrecht Center, or from one of the other wonderful shelters in the area. All you need is a valid driver’s license, up-to-date vaccination records for any current pets, a leash to take your new friend home and some time with our Adoption Counselor to find your new best friend. In return, you’ll receive a lifetime of love and the experience of the human-animal bond.
An Aiken native and self-proclaimed cat lady, Claire Grimes is the SPCA Albrecht Center’s Communications Director, working in marketing, grant writing and media correspondence. She attended College of Charleston, where she graduated with a degree in Nonprofit Business and interned with Charleston Animal Society, the leader in No-Kill South Carolina. When not working, you can find Claire hanging out with her 18-pound Maine Coon mix, Anakin.