October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month

Shelter dogs hold a special place in the hearts of all animal lovers. For many pet advocates, it’s hard for them to understand how someone could give up a pooch … although it happens daily.

Shelter dog adoption - Dog reaches with paw toward a man's hand through fence

You can celebrate Adopt a Shelter Dog Month in October and find your furry companion at a local shelter.

Since October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, we’ll give the 411 on the history, the truth about shelter dogs, facts and stats, and best of all, where to find your new companion at a local shelter.

Shelter Dog History

One hundred and eighty-six years ago, the very first organized dog shelter was founded in Britain by 22 animal-loving philanthropists. In 1824, they started the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. During that time, it was especially hard to get people on board with their mission as the first SPCA. But over time thanks to dedication, hard work, and a lot of love, the SPCA gained popularity.

By 1840, Queen Victoria gave her blessing and granted permission for the society to be renamed the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. As Britain’s longest reigning monarch, Queen Victoria had a soft spot for fuzzy creatures. Her loving companion was a Cavalier King Charles named Dash. After his passing, she fell in love with Pomeranians and even owned 35 at one time.

The United States caught on soon after when Henry Bergh founded the ASPCA in 1866. Eleven years later in 1877, the American Humane Society was formed and more animal rescue organizations.

Shelter dog adoption - Cavalier king charles spaniel and Henry Bergh, founder of the American society for the prevention of cruelty to animals (ASPCA) in 1866.

The mid-1800's saw the queen's love for her Cavalier King Charles lead to her royal blessing of the SPCA. While in the US, Henry Bergh founded the ASPCA.

For the first time, there were anti-cruelty laws to protect our furry friends. In 1869, one of the first animal shelters was formed – the Women’s SPA of Pennsylvania. The ASPCA in New York followed suit and began sheltering dogs and cats in 1894.

The Truth About Shelter Dogs

Approximately 5 to 7 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year, and approximately 3 to 4 million are euthanized. As they say, there are no bad pets, just bad owners. Most times, animals were given up due to the owner’s irresponsibility, or lack of initiative.

In a recent study by the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy, the top reason people surrender their dogs to shelters are due to behavioral problems followed by housing situations, incompatibility with the family’s lifestyle, and finally because the dog didn’t live up to the owner’s expectations. All shelter dogs need is a loving owner and a safe, happy home. Many shelter adoptees even say that shelter pets know that their new owners saved them and therefore have a special bond with their new parents.

Shelter Dog Adoption and Finding Your Local Shelter

Shelter dog adoption - Happy family at animal shelter choosing a dog for adoption.

Shelter dogs that are adopted know their new owners saved them and have a special bond with them.

There are about 5,000 community animal shelters nationwide. First turn to your local ASPCA or Humane Society or start lookin on Petfinder.com or AdoptAPet.com. All the pets on the site are from rescue shelters and you can search by animal, breed, sex, age, location, size, and even color. Each pet profile has pictures and a short bio on their behavior, likes, and dislikes. Search to find your fuzzy companion this month from a shelter instead of a breeder. Your pup will love you forever for it.

Shelter Dog Fast Facts According to AnimalShelter.org

  • 8-10 million dogs and cats entering shelters each year
  • 3-4 million dogs and cats euthanized by shelters each year
  • 3-4 million dogs and cats adopted from shelters each year
  • 4,000-6,000 animal shelters in the U.S.
  • 25% of purebred dogs in shelters
  • A female dog and her offspring can produce 67,000 dogs in six years
  • Between 600,000 and 750,000 dogs and cats reclaimed by owners each year from animal shelters