Adopt a shelter dog month – save a life, find a friend

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October is known for many events, from football to Oktoberfest to Halloween. But October is also the American Humane Association’s Adopt-a-Shelter Dog Month. The animal welfare group initiated the annual program in October 1981, to encourage people “to save lives and enhance their own lives by adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue group.” This year’s emphasis is on senior dogs, over the age of six or seven.

October is known for many events, from football to Oktoberfest to Halloween. But October is also the American Humane Association’s Adopt-a-Shelter Dog Month. The animal welfare group initiated the annual program in October 1981, to encourage people “to save lives and enhance their own lives by adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue group.” This year’s emphasis is on senior dogs, over the age of six or seven.

The association estimates that each year three to four million shelter-housed animals are euthanized—many simply for being left unadopted because of their age. The organization points out, however, that older dogs relinquished into shelters are very family-friendly, and have other pluses puppies and younger canines do not. Senior dogs tend to be less rambunctious. They generally are already house-trained and leash-trained. They already know how to live with and love human members of their family.

A good place to start for East County residents might be an online search for adoptable dogs, through such services as at www.petfinder.com. A recent website search there for dogs available for adoption near El Cajon returned nearly 154,000 dogs, all of which are looking for new forever homes. A benefit of using such sites is that background screening information is often provided, regarding such temperament and personality traits as whether the dog is suitable for families with young children, or other dogs or cats.

An in-person meeting is a must, though, to discover if you, your family and your possible dog are a good match. Local government-run or -affiliated shelters are scattered in and nearby East County. The closest facility is the El Cajon Animal Shelter, at 1275 North Marshall Avenue, contacted at (619) 441-1580. Visiting the San Diego Humane Society’s San Diego Campus, at 5500 Gaines Street, requires travel to the west, but that shelter serves the central areas around San Diego, including the central regions of East County; that facility’s phone number is (619) 299-7012. The Chula Vista Animal Care Facility, 130 Beyer Way, (619) 691-5123 serve Lemon Grove residents. Most of these shelters are closed on Sundays, Mondays and holidays, open other days during normal business hours.

Private groups also shelter and foster dogs, relieving pet overpopulation strain on the local public pounds and extending the time an otherwise-adoptable animal has for finding a new, permanent home. Fostered animals live in temporary homes with volunteers, and they usually transition to a new home more easily than those arriving out of shelter kennels. Shelter Pet Partners of El Cajon, for example, describes itself as “a 501(c) 3, non-profit organization devoted to rescuing abandoned and unwanted pets from San Diego County and City Animal Shelters,” noting that 100 percent of proceeds, after costs, provide for the animals in the organization’s care. Shelter Pet Partners can be contacted by mail at P.O. Box 2054, El Cajon, CA 92021.

Lionel’s Legacy, of El Cajon, focuses on caring for and placing senior dogs into homes. The group can be contacted through the organization’s website, http://lionelslegacy.org. The extra support this group provides for adoptive families includes any necessary veterinary dental work or surgery, to make sure these older dogs are comfortable before going into their new forever home. For dogs on long-term medications, the organization supplies at least one month of medicine. Dogs adopted from Lionel’s Legacy also leave for their new homes with a large dog bed, a large bag of dog food, and a special “rescue” collar.

The Barking Lot in El Cajon, located at 486 Raleigh Avenue, offers “Temporary Barking” shelter and care for homeless dogs in danger of being euthanized. An appointment to meet adoptable dogs there can be scheduled by calling (619) 354-4825.

Rescue organizations serving East County also at times partner with local pet stores, to facilitate meetings between dogs and humans who might take them home. East County Animal Rescue usually has lots of cats and a few dogs available for adoption. This group brings adoptable animals on weekends to the Petco in El Cajon, 540 North Second Street, and has others at the Petsmart in Santee Trolley Square, 9896 Mission Gorge Road, during store hours. Adopt A Friend Forever Rescue members bring its adoptable pets on weekends to Santee’s Petco, 9745 Mission Gorge Road, (619) 449-1668. Adopt A Friend Forever’s mailing address is P.O. Box 2754, El Cajon, CA 92021.

Interested in a particular size or breed of dog? Some rescue organizations are too. Spring Valley’s Foundation for the Care of Indigent Animals takes in small dogs, usually weighing less than 20 pounds, ones are likely candidates for being put down. All of the dogs in FCIA care reside in foster homes until permanent placement. The group can be contacted at P.O. Box 2574, Spring Valley CA 91979; phoned at (619) 466-9137 or reached by email at FCIAdoptions@aol.com.

4 Paws Coonhound Rescue and Friends has an El Cajon facility at 9400 Blossom Road. The organization can be reached by phone to schedule an appointment at (619) 851-1129. The group notes that although “coonhounds are still pretty rare in Southern California,” they place over 50 into homes each year, and the members and volunteers have chosen to extend their mission to include any dog or cat in need.

Westie Rescue of California, P.O. Box 2822, El Cajon, CA 92021-2822, specializes in the care and placement of West Highlands White Terriers.

La Mesa’s Greyhound Adoption Center, P.O. Box 2433, La Mesa, CA 91943-2433, offers an El Cajon site where potential adopters can meet and interact with rescued hounds of this racing dog breed. An appointment to visit that facility, at 4821 Dehesa Road, can be set by calling 877-HOUNDSAVERS (877-478-8364).

Adoption fees and policies vary by organization. These animal care groups welcome volunteers, donations, and those seeking new canine friends at any time of the year, not only during Adopt-a-Shelter Dog Month.

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