Why is this happening? Many believe that the over abundance of dogs is due to the slow economy. Dogs are being surrendered or abandoned because people can't afford to keep them. Ironically, at the same time, the pet food/supply industry continues to grow with people spending more on their pets than they ever have. I think the fundamental problem is that people don't realize this problem exists or how to help. What can we, the animal-loving community of the greater San Jose area do to make a difference in the lives of these dogs?
The dogs in our area shelters are in the most danger of being euthanized, especially when there are too many of them and not enough space. In the greater San Jose area we have *3 local shelters, all of which are pleasant places to visit. San Jose Animal Care Center, Humane Society Silicon Valley, and Silicon Valley Animal Control Authority all have wonderful dogs looking for homes to call their own. Before visiting a shelter you can peruse the available dogs online. Each shelter maintains a website of available animals which is updated frequently.
*Santa Clara County Shelter is not far, in San Martin.
Our directory has a list of the local dog rescue organizations which are in the greater San Jose area. Please check out their websites to view their available dogs. If someone is interested in a specific breed, before they start looking for a breeder, remind them that there are numerous breed specific rescue groups. In California, there are MANY breed specific rescue organizations like Norcal Golden Retriever Rescue or Golden Gate Basset Rescue to name a few. There are even rescue groups that specialize in older dogs such as Muttville. The majority of shelters and rescue organizations list their dogs on Petfinder.com. Type in the breed you are looking for and your zip code and you'll get a list of shelter/rescue dogs meeting your criteria within seconds!
On Craigslist you will often find many offers for free puppies (animals should never be free) or "pure bred" puppies at a high price from unreliable backyard breeders. Do not advocate supporting these sources for animals. Remember, close to 1 million adoptable companion animals are being euthanized in our shelters because people are looking to other sources to "buy" their pet. Looking for puppies? Shelters and rescue groups have puppies all of the time! Looking for purebred dogs, see #2 and go to the many rescue groups who work tirelessly to save dogs from overcrowded shelters. Advocate being part of the solution, not the problem! If everyone just told one person they know where to adopt their next pet, we would be making a HUGE difference!
4 - Volunteer at your local shelter.
Do you have a little spare time to give to animals? All shelters have a wide variety of volunteer tasks you can take on. From walking dogs, to helping with adoptions, there is no limit to the impact you can have on the shelter animals. Why not give a little love to a dog who is waiting for their permanent home? Of course, remember to give a hug to your dog at home too!
All shelters and rescue groups are constantly looking for foster homes for their animals. With more foster homes, they can save more dogs! Being a foster parent is extremely rewarding and bottom line, saves lives. Check out our foster section and pick any organization, go to their website, and they will have a foster application and/or information on how to get involved as a potential foster parent! You will not regret it, I promise you.
6 - Advocate for spay/neuter.
If you know anyone who hasn't spayed or neutered their dog, PLEASE tell them that this is a must! Many local shelters and organizations in the greater San Jose area offer reduced cost spay/neuter services. Much of the pet overpopulation problem stems from the many unwanted litters that easily can be prevented.
Many people overlook older dogs and opt for a puppy or very young dog. Are you sure you are ready for a puppy or a teenage dog? Younger dogs need A LOT of training and exercise. Older dogs are typically already trained and their personality is already formed. With a busy life style, an older dog may be a lot easier to bring into your household. Look at Jazzy, age 10, from Muttville, a Bay Area rescue that specializes in older dogs. He was saved from an area shelter a day before he was going to be euthanized. Wouldn't you like to come home to him every night? Look at those beautiful brown eyes!
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We can make a difference in the lives of animals in our community one at a time. If you need help in your quest to adopt a shelter or rescue animal, feel free to contact us. Do you have an adoption story to share, please feel free to contact us too. In closing, the Shelter Pet Project has made some very effective and charming videos to help raise awareness for shelter pets. Let's try to help more shelter/rescue dogs end up like the dog in the video.