Dog Season is upon us

In the past, whenever I’ve written my blog, I would choose a topic based on current issues, time of the year, or need in the animal welfare community. Maybe even a confluence of all of these things.  This time, as in times past, I decided to write about something we are currently experiencing in the animal welfare community. Something we experience every year at this time. I thought – oh! That’s easy, Kitten Season.  It made sense because it IS kitten season. And we are teeming with kittens!  But then I took a beat and thought, wait a minute.  Kittens are coming into the shelter in droves.  BUT!  Kittens are going home at TWICE the rate of dogs.

As I delved deeper into the statistics here at Bideawee and looked at national trends, it became clear that while we often focus on Kitten Season, the real story right now might just be Dog Season. Despite the influx of kittens, our feline friends are finding loving homes at an impressive rate. In fact, for the past three years, June saw more than double the amount of cats being adopted than dogs!  That’s after years of dogs being in first place for adoptions. Now, in contrast, dogs are arriving at Bideawee and at shelters across the country in overwhelming numbers, yet they are not experiencing the same adoption success.

This realization prompted me to reconsider the focus of my blog. Instead of solely highlighting the challenges of Kitten Season, which I have done many years past during the summer, perhaps it’s time to shine a spotlight on the plight of dogs waiting for their forever homes. Shelters are inundated with dogs in need of adoption. These animals are longing for families to call their own, yet they face longer stays and fewer adoption inquiries compared to kittens.

So, why the disparity? Are there misconceptions about adopting dogs versus cats? That certainly wasn’t the case during the pandemic. Is it a matter of time, lifestyle, money, space requirements, number of pets already in a family or simply a preference for smaller pets? It might be a little bit of everything. There has certainly been enough people hypothesizing both in the industry and in the media.  But no matter what the reason, we need to understand how we can better advocate for our canine companions during this “Dog Season” and find them loving homes.

As we navigate through these evolving seasons within the animal welfare community, it’s certainly important to continue to address the overpopulation of kittens and plug kitten adoptions, while also addressing the challenges faced by our canine friends. While we cannot solve for many of the above reasons for dog adoptions slowing down – we can help solve for one reason that dogs are coming back to shelters at an alarming rate – proper training.  It’s absolutely crucial to highlight the role of proper training in ensuring successful adoptions and reducing the risk of dogs returning to overcrowded shelters. While the joy of bringing a new pet home is undeniable, it’s equally important to invest in their training and socialization.

Training not only enhances the bond between you and your dog but also equips them with the skills needed to adapt to their new environment and become a well-behaved, socialized four-legged family memberBasic obedience training can help address behavioral issues early on, making the transition smoother for both pet and family.  Moreover, training provides mental stimulation and enriches their lives, reducing the likelihood of boredom-related behaviors, like chewing your shoes, eating your couch or even redirecting behaviors onto you that that could, at the very least, put a strain on your relationship.

By prioritizing training, you empower dogs to become well-behaved companions and integral members of your family. This proactive approach not only improves their chances of staying in your home for their entire life but also contributes to their long-term happiness and well-beingmaking you a happier pet parent too!

Let’s ensure that Dog Season becomes a time not just for adoptions, but also for responsible pet ownership, where every dog has the opportunity to thrive in a supportive environment with countless wagging tails finding their way into loving homes.