It’s National Puppy Day and time to appreciate our canine companions. In the US, about 44% of households have a dog. And though we have to look for them, they do the same for us. There are some surprising mental and physical health benefits to being a dog owner. No, really. Scientific studies show our furry friends lower stress and keep us active, which are great habits to maintain a long, healthy life (for both parties). National Puppy Day was founded more than a decade ago to recognize the love puppies give us and educate the public about safe adoption. There are many ways to celebrate and even more data to think about.
The problem with dogs is us
Every year, more than 3 million dogs enter animal shelters and many of them are euthanized (due to overcrowding and limited funding). It’s not a happy fact to think about on a celebratory day, but it’s the reality. As much as we might love them, we are also perpetrators of animal cruelty. Violence is certainly awful, but it’s not the only type of cruelty. Even going to the pet shop or skipping out on proper training is incredibly damaging. There’s an entire industry based on pets and we are doing no favors. Pet overpopulation is a real issue and can be prevented by spaying and neutering pets. This leads to fewer strays. However, it’s no easy feat to change our habits. Though the rate of euthanizing dogs has decreased over the years, it’s leaving more strays and wild dogs in the open. Pet shops often get dogs from puppy mills. These mills, or dog farms. forcibly and irresponsibly breed dogs, producing sickly inbred pets with a higher likelihood of aggression (due to poor socialization). And it’s only getting worse as the USDA is turning away from the issue. We are ridiculously cruel to push frivolous aesthetic and behavioral values on dogs. Purebred dogs are born from a specifically stocked gene-pool and carry hefty price tags. Our absurd need for showcasing “luxury” purebred dogs has created beautiful but deadly dogs. Plagued by deformities and disease, many “fashion pet” owners ignore the genetic flaws until it’s too much to handle. 25% of shelter dogs are purebred. The sad reality is when we seek out specific traits, we promote inherited disorders, such as breathing problems in bulldogs and syringomyelia in Cavalier King Charles spaniels. The puppy industry can change, as long as you do the proper research and care.
Adopt a dog
Unless you’re buying from a reputable breeder, it’s safest to adopt. Not only are you helping a dog in need, you’re reducing the number of dogs in shelters. Not looking for a puppy? You don’t have to adopt to help out. Globally, organizations and volunteers work to find loving homes for as many pets as they can. Continuing this trend can educate more people about the dangers of puppy mills, inbreeding and encourage better pet trade habits. And if you need to give up your dog for, please do so safely. There are many resources to help you re-home your dog. You can go to a shelter (check before if they are capable of taking in more pets) or look around your community for a new owner.
If you already have a lovable friend, give them some extra love by attending local dog-friendly events and venues!
Greetings from the Dogs of Boost!