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The Ruff Report: Dog adoption news

3,000 shelters participate in adoption day

In an effort to reduce the number of homeless pets in the United States, 3,000 animal shelters teamed up to hold a national free adoption day on Jan. 24.

Shelters from Massachusetts to California participated in Change a Pets Life sponsored by Hill's Science Diet Shelter Nutrition Partnership. Anyone who adopted a pet that day from a participating shelter received a free starter kit that includes premium pet food and tips about caring for their adopted dog or cat, according to a Hills Science Diet media release.

Actress Kyra Sedwick, owner of an adopted dog, Paulie, helped to promote the adoption day.

"I've been fortunate to have experienced the unconditional love of shelter cats and dogs my entire life so pet adoption is a cause that is very close to my heart," Sedwick stated in the media release. "Each year, more than eight million cats and dogs enter shelters and they truly need our help to find loving homes which is why I'm thrilled to help Hill's raise awareness for Change a Pet's Life Day."

Visit for a list of shelters that participated.

Hill's Science Diet is also launching a hot line to help owners understand and manage behavioral and special nutritional needs of their pets. Owners will be able to discuss topics such as acclimating a pet into a new environment, obedience/house training, proper nutrition and fitness with experts trained by Dr. Jacqui Neilson of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.

The hot line - 1-877-NEW PET LINE - is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST Monday through Saturday. (January 26, 2009)

Pet adoption campaign tops one million

A campaign to get one million pets adopted in a three-month period has surpassed its goal.

The Iams Home 4 the Holidays annual pet-adoption drive found new homes for 1,202,751 pets from Oct. 1 to Jan. 5. Seventeen countries participated with 591,533 dogs, 543,569 cats, and 67,649 other animals (such as rabbits, reptiles, birds and more) were placed into homes, according to a media release.

The program was founded in 1999 by the Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. A small group of shelters in the San Diego area participated in the first couple of years, then the program caught on, Trisha St. George, a spokesman for the center, told the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Prior to the program, most shelters shied away from processing adoptions around Christmas because families were thought to be too busy to bring home pets for the holidays, St. George told the newspaper. People ended up going to pet stores, and some of those animals landed in shelters come January, she said.

In 1999, Mike Arms, president of the Helen Woodward Animal Center, realized that many people wanted to take in pets during the holidays, so he persuaded 14 shelters and groups in the area to join him for the first Home 4 the Holidays campaign.

The idea quickly caught on. In the first year, 2,563 pets were adopted, and in 2001, 100,000 were adopted. The annual totals reached 491,612 in 2007 before more than doubling to more than one million in 2008.

Visit for more information about the Helen Woodward Animal Center. (
January 15, 2009)

Marley movie prompts adoption warning

"Marley and Me," the film about a lovable and rambunctious Yellow Labrador, has led to a surge of adoptions of dogs like the movie's namesake, but a humane organization is urging people to research the breed before bringing one home.

The American Humane Association says people can expect most puppies and young adult dogs to display similar antics to the movie's star, who chews, shreds and wreaks havoc.

"In the case of the dog in Marley & Me, what you see is what you might get," American Humane Society president Marie Belew Wheatley states in a media release. "It’s important for potential pet owners to keep this in mind when deciding whether to adopt a dog."

The unconditional love is inspiring from the main pooch that plays "Marley," a rescue dog, which proves animals in shelters can make great pets, Wheatley states.

Before adopting a Labrador, the American Humane encourages people to determine whether the breed is right for them.

Some facts to consider about Labradors:
  • They are the most popular breed in the United States.
  • They can develop slowly and continue puppy-like behavior past age 2.
  • They can be wonderful companion dogs for active families.
  • They are multi-talented and can excel in animal-assisted therapy, swimming and retrieving. (January 13, 2009)

Shelter IOU best way to give pet as gift

Those who want to give a pet as a holiday gift should instead consider giving the recipient an "IOU'' from a shelter, the American Humane Society says.

An IOU allows a family to make a decision about the breed, age and size of the pet during a less stressful and frantic time of year, the American Humane Society advises in a media release."

There are millions of animals at local shelters that need homes," American Humane president Marie Belew Wheatley states. "However, giving a pet as a surprise gift is never a good idea, especially during the holidays."

The holidays can be stressful for families and pets, Belew Wheatley states. "By surprising people with a pet, you are assuming they have the financial, emotional and time resources necessary to care for an animal, as well as the desire to care for a living being for the long term."

Choosing a pet is a personal decision, so it should be made by the one who will take care of the pet, the humane society says. Pets, especially young ones, require time, energy and money for proper care, so a surprise pet can be overwhelming to a family.

The humane society advises those who want to pick out a pet for someone to consider:
  • Pets have different needs depending on their breed and age. The best pet for a family is a decision only the family can make.
  • Pets are family members. Dogs and cats can live 15 years or more, so it is important that everyone in the house is willing to provide a healthy environment for the pet.
  • Pets need a calm, safe place where they can feel comfortable and acclimate to their new surroundings. A less-hectic time of year is probably a wiser choice to bring a pet into a home. (December 6, 2008)

Initiative urges adopting shelter pets

A new advertising campaign aimed at encouraging people to adopt pets from shelters could help save the lives of millions of dogs and cats, officials for two animal welfare organizations say.

The public service advertising initiative - a collaboration between the Humane Society of the United States, Maddie's Fund and the Ad Council - will try to instill on people the importance adopting from shelters rather than other sources. Most people get pets from breeders, friends, neighbors and pet stores.

Only about 20 percent of Americans adopt pets from shelters or rescue groups, so increasing the percentage of people who adopt pets by just a few percentage points can solve the problem of euthanasia of healthy and treatable dogs and cats, according to the Humane Society of the United States. Approximately 3 million healthy and treatable dogs and cats are killed in shelters each year.

"It will make a life-saving difference in securing loving homes for untold numbers of pets and get us closer to a no-kill nation," Wayne Pacelle, president of The Humane Society of the United States, stated in a media release.

Richard Avanzino, president of Maddie's Fund of Alameda, Calif., the largest foundation in the world focused on saving shelter dogs and cats, said his organization is "ecstatic" about the public service announcements. "This campaign has the potential to save all of our nation's healthy and treatable shelter dogs and cats and change the course of events in the cause of animal welfare," he stated. (
November 22, 2008)

Obamas lauded for dog adoption approach

President-elect Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, are taking the correct approach to getting a dog, a pet adoption agency official says.

David Meyer, president of, which has 6,500 animal shelters and humane societies that post on its web site, says the Obamas are making the right decision by waiting to get a dog until they get settled in the White House.

"It is best to bring a new dog into a stable home with dependable routines," Meyer stated in a media release. "This is less stressful for the dog and for the people involved, and helps insure a great start to a lifelong relationship."

During a recent interview on 60 Minutes, Michelle Obama said that she and her husband decided to delay getting a dog because they do not think it would be "good to get a dog in the midst of transition." is gathering signatures for a letter to be sent to Obama advocating that he adopt from a shelter. People can sign the petition by visiting, a web site that has been started for the national campaign.

Obama has stated his interest in adopting a shelter dog, but he expressed concern that he would be unable to do so because his daughter, Malia, is allergic to dogs and needs a hypoallergenic breed. (
November 22, 2008)

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