By Dr. Gary Weitzman
Since the start of the pandemic, 18,703 animals have been adopted from San Diego Humane Society. While those animals are enjoying life in their new homes, there are still millions in shelters across the country — and plenty here in San Diego County — who are waiting for a second chance. National Dog Day on Aug. 26 shines a spotlight on these deserving pets who are ready to become part of a family.
Founded in 2004, National Dog Day honors all breeds and aims to raise public awareness about the number of dogs who need to be rescued. Here in San Diego County alone, up to 20,000 homeless dogs enter shelters annually. However, with the public’s help in participating and spreading the word, we can support our furry friends. Here’s a few ways you can get involved:
- Adopt a dog on #NationalDogDay: Dogs have so much love to give. For those staying in shelters, finding a home can enrich their quality of life and give them a second chance at happiness, safety and security. Consider giving them that gift and at the same time, making space for the animal shelter to save another life. View adoptable pets at sdhumane.org/adopt or visit us during business hours!
- Donate funds, blankets, toys and food: Shelters have many needs when taking care of pets, and many are nonprofit organizations supported by donations. There are a number of different ways to give, and your support will make shelter stays more comfortable for pets while they await adoption.
- Consider fostering or volunteering at your local shelter: For dogs who struggle with shelter life or need a little extra care, fostering offers the one-on-one attention and loving comfort that only a home setting can offer — which is precisely what some animals need. If you’re not able to bring dogs into your home, consider volunteering your time and talent!
- Have fun while training: Learning together is a great way to bond with your pet — and it sets you both up for success. Training is as fun and as effective as possible when you use rewards to train your pup. Dogs get to do the three things they love most in the world: be with you, learn a behavior and eat all at the same time! Whether you work through a training book, attend in-person sessions or access an online class (you can find affordable options on our website!), you’ll learn how to speak to your pup and he’ll learn basic manners and skills.
- Commit to keeping pups safe: This summer, there’s plenty you can do to keep your dog safe. Check their microchip and collar tag to make sure all your details are up-to-date in case your furry friend gets lost. And as the temperatures climb, commit to the basics of pet heat safety: always test asphalt with your hand during walks, never leave your dog unattended in your car, avoid strenuous exercise on hot days and make sure they have plenty of water!
Mark your calendar for Aug. 26 to celebrate National Dog Day with the tips above — then keep them in mind for the other 364 days of the year! Remember, the best treat in the world to a dog is a human companion. Never underestimate how valuable this is. We humans have a whole world to live in, but a dog’s world is entirely the one we create. This is what makes National Dog Day the perfect time to find a new four-legged companion or add an extra touch of love to a dog’s life — whether in a shelter or in your home.
For those interested in adopting a furry friend, consider reading my most recent bookazine “The Pet Lover’s Guide: How to raise happy, healthy, and well-behaved dogs and cats,” published by National Geographic with a portion of the proceeds will benefit San Diego Humane Society.
Dr. Gary Weitzman is President & CEO of the San Diego Humane Society.