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When you’re ready to adopt, think local first

This time of year, we are all reminded about the importance of shopping locally. Today, I’d like to remind you it is just as important to adopt shelter pets locally.

Local animal welfare organizations rely on their community for monetary support, supply donations and adoptions. When locals don’t adopt within their community, animals spend longer in a stressful kennel environment, the shelter spends more money on their care and shelters are unable to intake as many animals as needed.

Social media and pet adoption sites have become an important tool for animal shelters and adopters alike. Shelters can use these sites to promote the animals they have available for adoption and reach a larger audience. However, the internet can be a hindrance to local shelters as well. There is a growing trend in people driving to different states to adopt a pet they have found online, even though there are perfectly pleasant pets in their own community that are in desperate need of a home. When using a pet adoption site, please be sure to apply the location filter and look at pets within your own community.

Every dog and cat is an individual. While you may be in love with a specific breed, or the look of an animal, it is important to meet the pet and see if they are a good match. Never commit to an animal based on a picture. Visiting your local shelter allows you to see and meet many pets to help ensure you are committing to a pet that is right for you. It is important for dogs to meet each other before bringing a new member of the pack home. Meet and greets with your existing pets is much easier when adopting locally.

Adopting locally may require patience. Shelters never know what will be coming through the door, but they update their websites regularly to reflect the animals that are available for adoption. If you have a specific breed in mind, talk with shelter staff members. Many shelters maintain “wishlists” and will notify potential adopters when the breed they are looking for is available.

Some folks go outside their area to adopt because they know their shelter is “low-kill” or “no-kill.” For this reason, people may travel to a “high-kill” shelter and adopt an animal that is at higher risk to be euthanized. While this is understandable, local “low-kill” and “no-kill” shelters cannot continue to succeed without local adopters. A lot of inter-shelter relationships exist that the public may not be aware of. For example, the La Plata County Humane Society often transports animals to the Front Range, where there is a high demand. In turn, we intake animals from nearby “high-kill” shelters. This type of relationship only works, when we have consistent community support through adoptions.

When you are ready to add a new pet to your family, please be sure to look local first.

Colleen Dunning is foster coordinator for La Plata County Humane Society.