Friday, August 19, 2011

International Homeless Pet Day-August 19th

Every evening they can be found making their way through the Historic District of town. A man, tired from a long day at work. A dog, excited to be out of his crate & with his buddy. A passerby might think they were just another pair out for an after-dinner stroll, except for the “Adopt Me” vest the dog wears. He is a homeless pet. He was rescued from the side of a highway in rural Tennessee, a stray his entire troubled life. His rescuer has provided him with a safe, healthy, loving foster environment but he is still homeless and looking for his forever family. And, his nightly stroll down Dixie Avenue with his “Adopt Me” vest reminds those passing that he is only one of too many.

There are approximately 6-8 million dogs and cats in this nation’s shelter system during any given year*. Countless more in rescues and private foster care. Over 25% of those animals are purebred**.

They are strays, owner surrenders or dogs who escaped out an open gate & found themselves picked up by Animal Control. In peak seasons, animal shelters and some rescues take in 60+ animals a day. The animals have only days to find their forever family… 3-4 million animals are euthanized every year in this country*.

Whether kitten, puppy, well-mannered adult, shaggy, hairless, pocket-size, large enough to stop traffic, purebred or lovable mutt your local animal shelter or humane society can help you find what you are looking for--to locate a facility close to you visit the ASPCA’s Shelter Search Page at

Also, consider local rescue organizations and breed-specific rescues. A simple Google internet search will provide a list of rescues that can help you find the furry friend you’re missing. These organizations help to elevate some of the burden on shelters, and give animals a second chance at a happy life.

If you cannot find the “purrfect” animal close to home, visit Petfinder at There are several transport companies like Peterson Express Transport Services***, featured on Animal Planet’s Last Chance Highway, that will deliver your pet to you even from hundreds of miles away.

The epidemic of homeless pets is a solvable one. Stricter breeding regulations; more education of spaying/neutering benefits and low-cost accessibility; responsible pet ownership; educating owners how to manage behavioral issues and proper training; promoting adoption and ending irresponsible pet store & internet animal sales; and the ability for all animal groups to work cohesively together to locate healthy, happy homes for these animals will greatly reduce the number of pets taken into our shelter/rescue system. It will also reduce the numbers that never make it that far, that close to hope. Every year countless animals are abused and neglected—they never have a chance of finding their forever family.

After their nightly walk, as the man tucks the dog into his crate he makes a promise, “We’re going to find you a good home, buddy.”

That should be our promise to all homeless animals today, and every day. “We’re going to find you a good home.”

Thank you to the Cookeville Putnam County Animal Shelter for allowing access to their adoptable pets for this story. All the animals featured in this story are available at

International Homeless Pet Day was started by the International Society for Animal Rights in 1992. For more information and ways to celebrate IHPD please visit

*Humane Society of the United States ****

** National Council on Pet Population Study & Policy

*** To contact Peterson Express Transport Service visit

**** There currently is no central database for shelter and rescue statistics. All numbers are approximate.

Sheila Rinks is the editor of Finding Fuzzybutt Four, producer of the Raising Indiana podcast and shares her home with her husband, 4 Great Pyrenees and 2 very well-fed kitties.

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