October is Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month
October is Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month, and while there are 3-4 million shelter dogs curled up in cages, waiting against the diminishing hope of being rescued from euthanasia, heed this advice: don’t adopt a shelter dog this month. Yes, that’s right: I’m recommending that you do not adopt a pet during Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month, for there’s more than one way to support shelter dogs.
While it’s great that a commemorative month is in place to raise awareness of dogs in shelters, some would-be parents don’t always consider whether the time is right for pet adoption. Meanwhile, groomers are usually the last people that need to resort to a shelter to find a pet. Possibilities for gaining another four-footed family member abound in our profession; a deluge of neglected, matted animals seems to mysteriously turn up at our door. Customers abandon dogs, one or two locals treat grooming salons as a depository for strays, and, naturally, our dog-loving connections are bountiful. Perhaps you’ve once been tempted by a doe-eyed mutt gazing at you helplessly or by a harrowing story of animal neglect or abuse. By obliging to your humanity, you added one more number to your zoo’s keep: this is how some groomers end up with one-too-many pets in their household.
The fallout from these “do right” gestures occasionally works itself out. But not always. Having to send a dog back to the shelter is hard. It’s hard on you, it’s hard on the dog, and the people at the shelter are affected, too. For this reason, the only time you should get a dog is when you’ve been thinking about it and talking about it and discussing it with people for some time. If, after thoughtful consideration, you’ve decided it is time for a pet, then YES! Head to that local shelter you’ve researched and see if one of their dogs suits your household.
But if it’s not the right time to expand your family with a four-legged friend, you can still participate in Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month. In fact, as groomers, you can raise more awareness on pet overpopulation than most other people by promoting October’s Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog theme. This alternative could allow you to help dozens of animals instead of just one. Remember that collaborations play a role in how a shelter affords to operate. Public donations and ongoing partnerships with shelters allow for the better care of shelter dogs.
Here are some ways to make great strides toward helping homeless dogs, without the usual 15-year commitment of pet adoption.
- Make a sign advertising October as the Adopt-a-Shelter-Pet Month, and hang it in a prominent spot in the salon.
- Place a jar on the counter and label it for donations: “Not the right time to adopt a shelter pet? Donations go directly to (name of local shelter) and help care for the pets.”
- For the month of October, use a sliver of space from your own advertising to promote the cause. You could simply tack a short message to the footer: “Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month is October!” If you can, list your favorite shelter.
- Using your Facebook page, showcase a different local shelter each week in October, in honor of Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month
- Run a special sales promotion to benefit an animal shelter (e.g. offer a $5 discount off of nail trims, or sell Halloween or Insect Shield bandannas, facials, or some other add-on for the discounted price of $5). Use signage to indicate that proceeds from that special will be donated to the shelter, and explain why.
- Organize a drive for an animal shelter in honor of Adopt-A-Shelter-Pet Month. Find out what supplies the shelter needs and put up a sign in your shop asking for donated items – towels, canned food, bleach, and so on. Set up a collection bin for customer donations. Mention the donation drive to every caller so they can come prepared if they are inclined. Put up a promotional sign in the window to encourage drop ins from non-customers.
- Offer the shelter coupons for free or half-price grooms to be redeemed by a dog deserving of pampering, in honor of the month.
- Put a link to the shelter on your website or on social media and introduce Adopt-A-Pet Month.
- Volunteer at a shelter. Although training is usually entailed, their staff will be delighted that someone with professional experience has offered to help with the dogs, and the experience will feel incredibly rewarding.
- Sell raffle tickets throughout the month for a free basic groom, or, if your shop offers retail items, raffle off a product package. From the money you’ve raised, donate anything over your expenditures. Advertise that you are doing it.
- Not the right time to adopt? Consider whether you’re in a position to foster. Most shelters have some animals that would do better in a foster home until they are permanently adopted. Ask the shelter what it entails. While it could be tough saying goodbye to a foster pet, it could be joyous knowing that you have given a dog some of the developmental and behavioral skills and training that made him a better adoption candidate for a permanent home.
Implementing just one of these ideas may make a huge difference to a shelter dog. Whatever course you pursue will help the shelter help more dogs. It’ll make you feel good, and it will show your clientele who you really are as a pet professional – and that’s worth it!