Posts Tagged ‘euthanasia’

Can toys for shelter dogs stop them from dying?

You’ve decided to adopt a dog, so you’re off to the shelter. Awww…there’s a pooch frolicking with a toy. He throws it up in the air, sees you, runs to you, toy in tow. “Wanna play?” he’d ask if he spoke English. There’s another pup in the corner, disengaged. Which one will you choose? Which one will your kid choose? What if the entire shelter were full of disengaged dogs—or aggressive ones? Would you leave with or without one?


dog with toy

A dog with a toy is a beautiful thing.

Statistics show: socialized dogs—dogs with behaviors that fit their environment and culture—are more likely to be adopted. What helps dogs socialize? Toys. They give dogs something to do. Toys keep dogs calm and interested—and for shelter dogs, this is especially important behavior to exhibit in a less-than-ideal situation. Because the more quickly pups adapt to their surroundings, the faster they’ll get adopted into a forever home, and the more likely they’ll be kept for good.


Teeny’s Friends is a smart project begun by some spirited people in Austin. Last year, they held toy drives at local businesses and ran a benefit buy-one-donate-one sale. They managed to get 300 toys into needy dogs’ mouths last year. And they want to do more.

If they get enough votes (hint, hint), they could win a $5000 Pepsi grant. What would they do with it? In addition to a website, signs, toys and shipping fee, Teeny’s Friends aims

  • To provide 1,000 toys for dogs in local shelters.
  • To significantly decrease the euthanasia rate in Austin, Texas shelters.
  • To raise awareness about the importance of adoption.
  • To provide 200 toys for dogs in low-income families.

So please vote!

P O S T  S  C   R   I    P    T

Of course, toys are part of the answer. But to stop euthanasia altogether, we must:

  • Increase adoption rates. Shelter people work their patooties off doing this, so I’m not going to preach on they can do it better. And I’d say we’re pretty maxed out on the communication that adopting from a shelter is better than buying.
  • Eliminate surrendering. How? Education, education, education. Pre-adoption counseling. (I know, you do.) Free behavior training. (I know, you’d love this.) Free vet care for those who can’t afford it. (Can we get a pet care overhaul?) And how about a nationwide PR campaign finally making it uncool to move without your pet! (Did you know almost 30% of pets are in shelters because their families say they couldn’t move with them? Come again?)
  • Stop the stray cat (and dog) strut. Less than 2% of cats and only 15-20% of dogs are returned home. Why? No ID. The lesson: all pet parents should give all four-leggeds a microchip AND a collar with a tag. Wait—pause—not just a microchip, not just a collar and tag: BOTH. (Read this .pdf by the Humane Society for why.) Tattooing? Err… I have sensitive skin, but maybe your dog doesn’t! Just please ask first. Then send me a picture. Cute!
  • Make sure you and everyone you know are talking to their dogs and cats about sex. A mere 10% of the animals received by shelters have been spayed or neutered, versus 75% of pets in homes. Why? Neutered pets have less wanderlust, so they stay at home. Take it from a dog who knows. But I have a microchip, collar and tag, too—just in case my nose takes over.

Anything else you can think of, while I’m dreaming of a perfect world?

Statistical sources:

ASPCA, 2003, 2010
The National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP)
“Behind the Numbers” by Stephen L. Zawistowski, Ph.D.

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