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4 incredible ways to make a difference during Adopt a Shelter Dog Month

Pumpkin pie is back on the menu, the leaves are beginning to turn, and Halloween is right around the corner. But October isn’t exclusively about spooky movies and pie. October is also Adopt a Shelter Dog Month. With cooler weather and the first stirrings of the holiday spirit in the air, it’s the perfect time of year to make a difference in the lives of shelter dogs. Every year, around 3.1 million dogs enter animal shelters in the United States. An estimated 34% of these dogs come from breeders. Tragically, 390,000 shelter dogs are euthanized every year. But a shelter dog’s fate doesn’t always end in heartbreak. Roughly 2 million shelter dogs get adopted every year, and the number is growing. Want to find out how you can make a difference? We have four incredible ways you can help. 

An adorable puppy behind the bars of a cage in an animal shelter.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

1. Donate to your local animal shelter

Animal shelters are staffed with dedicated team members working with limited resources. Did you know that most animal shelters don’t receive government funding? Instead, adoption fees, annual donations, fundraisers, and crowdfunding are their primary means of keeping their doors open to help the helpless. Wondering how your donations will be used? They typically go toward the cost of daily operations, food and housing for the animals, training their staff, and outreach and awareness programs. Even a small contribution can make a huge difference.

2. Promote the cause on social media

Facebook sees roughly 2.7 billion active users each month, with YouTube trailing behind at 2 billion. TikTok, which has been around since 2016 and recently enjoyed a meteoric rise in popularity, has over 689 million users. If you don’t have the budget for a monetary donation, you can raise awareness across your social media platforms. Most animal shelters have a Facebook page, so make sure you give them a “follow” and “like,” comment on, and share their posts to boost their visibility in the algorithm. 

A puppy reaching his paw out through cage bars for a woman's hand.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

3. Volunteer at your local animal shelter

Do you have free time on the weekends? Why not volunteer as a dog walker? Not only does it lessen the financial strain on an underfunded animal shelter, but you get to spend time with a cute pooch besides. If you have a unique skill, you can also volunteer your experience. Animal shelters are always in need of help with outreach programs, fundraisers, and the day-to-day operations of your local shelter. They may need help with social media marketing, cleaning the facility, repairing kennels, and more. Volunteering at an animal shelter is also a fantastic family activity, but speak to the manager beforehand. Some children may not be able to offer much help, and you won’t be able to give your full attention if you’re busy monitoring your child. 

4. Foster or adopt a stray dog

If you’re not ready to provide a forever home, fostering a shelter dog is one of the most important ways you can help. Some dogs need more individual attention than a shelter can provide due to anxiety or physical health problems. Without foster homes, many animal shelters wouldn’t be able to remain open. Additionally, you’ll set a good example for your friends and family, who will be more likely to foster after your success story. Last, but certainly not least, this is the perfect time to welcome a furry new member of the family if you can adopt a shelter dog. Check out The Shelter Pet Project to find your new pup in a local shelter.

A man and a woman greeting their new shelter dog.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Why support Adopt a Shelter Dog Month?

Adopt a Shelter Dog Month got its start as Adopt A Dog Month in October 1981. With an estimated 4,000–6,000 animal shelters in the U.S. alone,  millions of dogs (and cats) are in desperate need of a loving home. “Adopt, don’t shop” has become a rallying cry across the globe, and with good reason. Whether you plan to adopt a mutt, or you have your heart set on adopting a purebred dog, animal shelters are your best bet. Up to 25% of shelter dogs are purebreds. Not only will you save the life of the dog you adopt, but you’ll also make room for a stray who needs shelter. Making a difference in an animal’s life can change yours for the better, and there’s no better time than right now. 

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Mary Johnson
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Mary Johnson is a writer and photographer from New Orleans, Louisiana. Her work has been published in PawTracks and…
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