If you are thinking of adding a new dog to your family, now is the time to do it. October is national Adopt a Shelter Dog Month and the American Humane Association and area animal shelters across the nation are uniting to promote rescuing a homeless dog this month.

“Right now there are millions of loving dogs in every size and shape imaginable waiting anxiously in local shelters for a home of their own. By choosing to adopt a dog, pet lovers are working to decrease the number of animals left homeless each year-a mission American Humane strives for each day,” said Marie Belew Wheatley, president and CEO of American Humane Association.

With our economy in crisis and unemployment rates higher than ever, you might be asking yourself if this is really a good time to adopt a dog. If you are having trouble making ends meet, by all means pass on adopting. However, if you are financially secure, a dog makes a wonderful stress reliever in times like these. Dogs also encourage people to exercise, they enhance family and social relationships, and they provide free entertainment. Plus, a dog doesn’t care if you live in a small or large house. They don’t mind that you haven’t updated your family room furnishings since the 1980s. They won’t criticize you for staying in and watching a movie on a Saturday night. And best of all, they won’t judge you for eating an entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s Americone Dream even though you’re, ahem, lactose intolerant.

If you’ve decided that you and your family are ready for a dog, here are some things to consider before you adopt:

• Make sure you are willing to make a 10- to 15-year commitment to the dog. This means if you change jobs, add to your family, move out of state, etc., your dog goes with you.

• If you have youngsters in the house under five years of age, you may want to consider a larger, mellow dog.

• If there are elderly or physically challenged individuals in the house, you will want to avoid extremely active, adolescent dogs.

• Decide who will be the primary caretaker of the dog. Even though all the family members should share in doggie duties, there should always be one adult who is ultimately responsible for the dog.

• Make sure all the family members are present when a dog is selected. This experience should be shared with the whole family and shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.

• Make sure you are able to provide the essentials for your dog. For tips on getting what your dog needs, read a previous Pet Chat column “Doggie Must Haves.”

Where to Adopt

Close to 10 million animals enter shelters each year in the United States alone. Adopt a Shelter Dog Month helps focus attention on the pet population problem we face in this country. Help make a dent in this problem and adopt a dog today. If you don’t see what you’re looking for at your local animal shelter, you can still rescue an animal by going through www.petfinder.com.

Here are some specials and events that area rescue groups are offering for the month of October:

K-9 PALS First Annual Great Ball Drop

October 17, at 4:45 p.m. on the softball fields of Elings Park, K-9 PALS is holding their first Great Ball Drop, in association with the Santa Barbara Beer Festival. This is their primary event for raising funds to provide care and medical assistance to the dogs at the Santa Barbara County Animal Shelter. Proceeds will also benefit the Elings Park Foundation.

One thousand numbered balls will be dropped “from the sky.” Some balls will fall into prize-winning dog bowls, others retrieved by “prize-selecting” shelter dogs. It’s guaranteed to be something spectacular to see.

Prizes include brunch for two at the Four Seasons Biltmore; Elings Park EPDOG tags; a one-month pass to the Santa Barbara Athletic Club; an iPod Mini Shuffle; and much more. Grand prize is a two-night stay at the Four Seasons Hotel in Las Vegas plus $100 spending money.

The price for the ball drop is one ball for $10; 10 balls for $90. You can purchase balls by calling K-9 PALS at 681-4369 or stop by the Santa Barbara County Animal shelter at 5473 Overpass Road. For more information, visit k-9pals.org.

Santa Barbara Humane Society Reduced Adoption Fee

There are approximately 45 dogs eagerly awaiting adoption at the Santa Barbara Humane Society. Among the available are purebreds, mixed breeds, young, old, big, small, and everything in between. The Humane Society maintains detailed health and temperament profiles on each adoption animal, and will help prospective families make a good match when choosing their new canine companion. Their reduced adoption fee during the month of October is $49 and includes an initial health examination, vaccines, spay/neuter surgery, temperament evaluation, microchip with registration, and a starter pack of food. For more information, visit the Santa Barbara Humane Society at 5399 Overpass Road., or call 964-4777. Shelter hours are Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. You can also visit sbhumanesociety.org for more information.

DAWG Offers Free Spay/Neuter to Pit Bulls and Mixes

Year-round, DAWG provides free spay/neuter, free vaccinations, and free Home Again microchips to pit bulls and pit bull mixes. DAWG (Dog Adoption and Welfare Group) is a no-kill, nonprofit dog rescue/adoption organization located at 5480 Overpass Road. The public is invited to stop by and look around every day from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. DAWG relies on volunteers to take care of all the dogs, so if you’re a dog lover, think about volunteering. Students are able to fulfill their volunteer community service requirement by volunteering. Volunteer orientations are generally held every other Saturday at 10 a.m. Contact DAWG for the next meeting. For more information, call 681-0561. You can view adoptable dogs at sbdawg.com.

C.A.R.E.4Paws Free Spay/Neuter Clinic

In September, C.A.R.E.4Paws, in partnership with Buellton Veterinary Clinic, kicked off its Spay/Neuter Program with a free clinic, providing the public as well as local rescue groups and shelters with free spays and neuters for cats and dogs. At the end of a successful day, 25 animals had been altered by long-time veterinarian Tina Taylor and her team of technicians.

The day marked the start of a series of spay/neuter clinics planned by C.A.R.E.4Paws and Buellton Veterinary Clinic. “We want to make this a monthly event,” said Dr. Taylor, who, along with her crew, is donating her time to the cause. The next clinic is scheduled for Sunday, October 18. Members of the public interested in getting their dog or cat spayed or neutered free of charge should contact C.A.R.E.4PAWS at 968-CARE (2273) or email info@care4paws.org to reserve a spot.

C.A.R.E.4Paws’ Spay Days accomplish one of the organization’s chief goals, which is to bring together the different animal rescue groups (nearly 20 nonprofits in this county alone) already working hard to save animals’ lives and reduce pet overpopulation. Among the rescue groups and shelters whose animals were altered during the September clinic were Catalyst for Cats, K-9 PALS at Santa Barbara County Animal Services, and C.A.P.A. at Santa Barbara County Animal Services’ Lompoc center.

C.A.R.E.4Paws (Community Awareness, Responsibility, Education) started its spay/neuter Program with the goal of reducing the large population of unwanted dogs and cats in Santa Barbara County. To learn more about C.A.R.E.4Paws and its different programs and upcoming events, visit care4paws.org.


Adoptable Pet of the Week

Do you love big dogs? Maddie is 82 pounds of beautiful, sweet, well-behaved dog. This Lab/shepard mix is only two years old so she still has plenty of life to share with a new person or family. Her previous guardian reports that she loves to play with other dogs at the dog park. She also loves kids, but could be overwhelming for the very young. If you might have a home for Maddie, come for a visit with her in one of our exercise yards and she will show you that she is a really good girl.

For more information, visit the Santa Barbara Humane Society at 5399 Overpass Road, or call 964-4777. Shelter hours are Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. You can also visit sbhumanesociety.org for more information.


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