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Over the past few years, National Rescue Dog Day, which falls on May 20th, has spread awareness about the vast number of rescue dogs in need of adoption. Rescue dogs are often pulled out of homes with less-than-ideal living conditions, are abandoned, or stray, but are in need of love just as much as–if not more so than–any other pet. These dogs overcome extreme obstacles, making them resilient, loyal, and wonderful family pets.
Celebrating A New Feel-Good Holiday
National Rescue Dog Day was founded by Tails that Teach, Inc., a nonprofit organization whose mission is to save the lives of animals and change the lives of children “through educational programs and compassion-centered books.” Tails that Teach, Inc. is a labor of love for Lisa Wiehebrink, a children’s book author and creator of National Rescue Day, who wanted to share her own experience adopting a rescue dog with the rest of the world. Cooper, Wiehebrink’s rescue dog, was adopted in 2009 and was the inspiration behind her two books, Love Me Gently and Gray Whiskers.
Wiehebrink established National Rescue Dog Day because she wanted people to understand the depth of love provided by rescue dogs. According to the National Rescue Dog Day website, she was hoping that the day would convey that rescue dogs:
- Can “contribute to the independence of people with disabilities as service animals and give comfort to the elderly” with proper training.
- Have a variety of therapeutic benefits for children, teens, and adults on the autism spectrum, as well as serving as “emotional support companions, [to help relieve] anxiety, depression, and PTSD among the military or those who suffer from mental illness.”
- Serve as wonderful teachers, demonstrating for children the importance of kindness and compassion.
Rescue Dogs By the Numbers
The ASPCA estimates that about 6.5 million animals enter animal shelters each year in the United States, 3.3 million of which are dogs. Of those over 3 million dogs, about 1.6 million are adopted, and 670,000 are euthanized. There has been a steady decline in the number of dogs who are euthanized in shelters since 2011, thanks in large part to increased adoption from shelters and kennels.
A little less than half (44%) of the American population has a dog at home, and 23% of those dog owners adopted their pup from a shelter or Humane Society. Although many mixed-breed dogs can be found in shelters across the country, 25% of dogs that come from shelters are purebred, so if you are looking for a specific breed of dog, it’s worth checking with local shelters before turning to a breeder.
How You Can Help
The actions laid out by National Rescue Dog Day are as follows:
- Adopt. Of course, the best thing that you can do for a rescue dog is to welcome them into your home and your family. If you are ready to take on the responsibility of a new pup, then adoption is a wonderful route to take.
- Foster. If you’re not quite ready to take on the long-term responsibility of pet ownership, being a foster parent can not only help you determine if you’re able to take the leap, but can also help a dog feel safe and loved outside of the shelter environment.
- Donate. Shelters around the country are always in need of donations, whether monetary or items such as blankets, new toys, leashes, or treats for the pets in their care. A small donation can go a long way in saving the life of a shelter animal.
- Volunteer. Many shelters depend on volunteers to take dogs for walks, help with grooming, and serve as a general playmate to keep them happy and stimulated. Volunteering your time doesn’t require much more than showing up with a good attitude and can have a big impact on the animals’ well being.
- Advocate for Spay & Neuter Procedures. Overpopulation is a huge burden on shelters, but it can be very easily managed by encouraging people to spay and neuter their pets.
You can also spread the word about the benefits of adopting or fostering rescue dogs by sharing photos with us on Instagram by tagging @petplace and telling us a little bit about your experience as an adoptive pet parent to a rescue!