I cannot believe it is already October! I was busy lamenting this fact, chastising myself for squandering my first summer in Northern Nevada indoors when I was reminded of one of the reasons I love October (other than college football, playoff baseball and Halloween). October is Adopt a Shelter Dog month! Now, I can understand that this may not be big news to you, but to me and the folks I am lucky enough to work with at Nevada Humane Society, this is cause for adulation and occasional, spontaneous dancing. National organizations, local animal welfare groups, and passionate dog lovers will try and spread one simple, yet profoundly important message—shelter dogs are great and you should have one (or three).
It probably carries no shock value to announce that I, Kevin Ryan, think you ought to adopt a shelter dog this October, November, or any other time of year. I am in the lifesaving business and the key, the very crux of our lifesaving effort here in Northern Nevada is adoption. Some communities transfer animals out to the far reaches of our country where shelter dogs are less abundant, some groups focus on lateral shelter transfers, but we here in Northern Nevada have built our success upon one element —you. You have built this no-kill community, you have defined the “Nevada Humane Society Model,” you are the rock we have built our future successes upon. Our lifesaving model incorporates many important elements; a 2,500 family strong foster program, an 8,000 person volunteer army, a robust and rapidly expanding spay/neuter program, partnerships with wonderful community organizations, a commitment to help keep loved animals in their existing homes, and a HUGE adoptions program. The above is not a laundry list of all of the steps that led to the forging of this community’s nearly unmatched success in lifesaving, but it’s a good list. The lynch pin, as I mentioned, are the big-hearted families that make up this community. We develop all sorts of wacky promotions to convince you to come adopt a shelter animal, and we’ll keep doing that, but in the end I think you might do it anyway. This community is convinced, you’ve drunk the Kool-Aid, you’re on the bus, you believe. This community adopts 20 shelter animals per 1,000 people —that’s more than Denver, more than Las Vegas, and more per capita than almost anyone.
When I sat down to write this column I planned to write it about misconceptions about shelter dogs, in honor of their month. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized you didn’t need convincing. I can’t tell you anything you show me every day. National data models show us that many communities view shelter dogs as “damaged goods,” “unadoptable,” “broken” or even “inherently dangerous.” You know that’s not true, as odds are you’re sitting with a shelter animal right now who has, better than I can, already shown you the folly of the above perception.
I honestly planned to tell you the story of an amazing shelter dog that confounds all the aforementioned negative (and patently wrong) stereotypes. Yet again, what can I tell you that you don’t already know? You already know the story of an amazing rescue dog —yours. I hope you’ll visit our Facebook page (facebook.com/nevadahumanesociety) and tell us the story of your amazing dog (or cat). In honor of Adopt a Shelter Dog Month and in honor of your special furry family member, in my next column we’ll feature your adopted pet!