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Bring home a new friend

Looking for a furry companion? Well look no further. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), along with local agencies such as the Humane Society of Tampa Bay (HASTB), has declared October the Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month.

According to the ASPCA Web site, every year, millions of dogs enter shelters across the nation. At the same time, millions of people bring dogs into their homes and families. Unfortunately, for the millions of shelter dogs, only 20 percent out of the 59 million owned dogs come from shelters.

Larry Hawk, ASPCA President and CEO, said the main reason why organizations such as the ASPCA and local shelters all over the country have united in this campaign is to find these unfortunate pets better homes. They dedicate a month out of the year to emphasize, through campaigning, the meaning of bringing home a shelter dog, he said.

“Drawing people to shelters then guiding them through the process of preparing their home for a new dog are our goals this month,” Hawk said.

The ASPCA National Shelter Outreach department is also assisting over 8,000 shelters nationwide with informative supplies to help promote the Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog campaign throughout the month of October.

Linda Y. Baker, executive director for the HASTB said adopting a shelter dog is not a complicated process.

“Anyone who is interested in adopting a new pet (can) come in (the shelter) and take a look,” she said. ” If they find an animal that they are interested in, they (can) visit the dog or cat and then one of (the) adoption counselors will have them complete an application and do an interview with them.”

As for the Humane Society’s aspiration this month, they have over 400 volunteers nationwide to help promote that they have adorable adoptable pets. They encourage everyone to go in and see what they have available, Baker said.

Marian Drexler volunteered as an adoption assistant for two months before becoming an employee at the Tampa Humane Society.

“I helped people who were interested in adopting an animal by accompanying them through the visit with the animals,” Drexler said.

She always wanted to work with animals through volunteering to gain experience in the field, she said.

“I’ve always been into animal rights and animal welfare, so it’s important for me to be here and interact with the animals here and make sure they go to good homes,” Drexler added.

Someone who found a companion was Akiy Terrel, a USF student, who adopted a terrier-German mix shelter dog this month, but the campaign did not bring him there.

“I love dogs. I had one when I was a little kid. And I haven’t had one in a while (because) I lived on campus,” Terrel said.

And Sherry Olsen, a shelter employee who has recently adopted a dog, said she wanted to get another dog to accompany her other adopted dog at home.

“The shelter is providing them with a second chance at a happy life,” Olsen said. “Both the dogs I’ve adopted were abandoned so they were just wandering in the streets,” Olsen added.

Baker also said that all the canines are spayed or neutered and heartworm tested. HASTB also offers counseling to help indecisive persons looking for a dog to select the pet that fits their lifestyle, Baker said.

The ASPCA was founded in 1866, making it the first humane organization in all of North America. According to its Web site, more than 785,000 members carryout the association’s goals of advocating humane principles, preventing cruelty and lessening pain, fear and anguish in animals. The ASPCA also offers leadership programs with a focus on animal medical services, public awareness and animal placement, among others.

Sally Getzky, who has been a senior counselor at the Humane Society for eight years, said the shelter receives over 1,200 dogs a month.

“We groom the dogs and microchip them also,” she said. “Microchip is a form of identification. It’s about the size of a grain of rice. And it goes under the skin between the shoulder blades, ” she said.

“When we get a dog here we scan it. Most pets have this now and most shelters around the country use it as well. If (a dog) has a chip, it pops up and it can be traced(to its rightful owner) if it gets out or lost. The chip would inform the shelter the address, name and phone number of the pet’s previous home. It works all over the country.”

In addition, the ASPCA offers pointers on how to shape your home into a dog-friendly environment. Simply by doing such easy things as keeping a dog well groomed and providing comfortable dog beds in every room can help ease the process of the pet settling down in a new place. More strategic tips are available on the association’s official Web site

Contact Vanessa Garnicaat