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Appreciate Your Animal Shelter!

Please take me home with you!
Please take me home with you!

According to the ASPCA, over six million companion animals enter animals shelters in this country every year.  The good news is that every year more than four million pets are adopted from animal shelters.  But almost one million are euthanized every year.  That’s a lot of animals that never survive the shelter, primarily due to lack of homes. 

     This week has been National Animal shelter Appreciation week.  It is a time to recognize animal shelters for doing so much more for their communities than just house our homeless pets. 

     First, they serve as a place where a lost or homeless animal can find shelter, and food, and medical care if needed.  The staff often works alongside trained volunteers to care for the animals.

     Many shelters serve as lost-and-found services for pets, especially those with microchips.  An animal with a registered microchip can often be reunited with its owner.

     Shelters often participate in the transport of homeless animals to another area of the country where demand for adoptable pets is high, meaning a better chance for those pets to find new homes.

      Metro Animal Shelter in Tuscaloosa has a program called Happy Hour, where you can apply to “check out” a dog for a day.  It helps the dog because it gets some exercise, and some personal time with humans away from the stress of the shelter environment.  You and your family might take the opportunity to “test drive” a furry friend to see if you really want a pet and if you and the dog are a good match.

     If you want to help your local shelter, call and offer to volunteer to care for the animals or help with adoptions, or foster an animal.  And of course, a donation is always appreciated.

     As National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week comes to a close, I encourage you to appreciate the role animal shelters play in serving our communities all year long, when we’re speaking of pets.


Mindy Norton has been “Speaking of Pets” on Alabama Public Radio since 1995.