Own a Dog? Be an Advocate!

There are few problems in this world that everyone can help solve. The plight of homeless and in-need dogs is one of them. If you are already dog owner or have been a dog owner in the past, you’re an advocate-in-waiting. You, because of the uniqueness of your dog and your life, are positioned to make a difference in both large and small ways for homeless and in-need dogs. Do you love dogs and believe they deserve fulfilling, happy lives? You’re qualified!

Your experiences, though universally similar to other dog owners, is special. Your life is special. The circumstance by which you acquired your dog is special. The reasons why are decided to add a dog to your life is special. And, by thinking about all those factors that make you and your dog unique, you can channel those experiences towards making an impact. Canine advocacy has a huge breadth of issues that should and can appeal to almost every loving dog owner. You just need to figure out which issue appeals to you. Here’s how.

Start by remembering how your dog came into your life. Did you buy him or her? Did you adopt from a shelter or rescue group? Did you find your pet as a stray on the street? Did you acquire your dog from a friend who was no longer in a position to provide care? Each circumstance should have a unique story which evokes a feeling by you one way or another. If you bought your dog from a reputable, esteemed breeder, you may consider becoming a breed enthusiast and striving to help preserve the integrity of the breed you love so much. If you bought from a not-so-reputable breeder or puppy-mill-type situation, you can help educate others about being smarter consumers and advocate for alternatives to purchasing a pet. If you adopted, you can help raise awareness about how adoption is the most rewarding option for adding a pet to a family.

Next, identify what makes your dog unique. Is he or she a great athlete? Did your dog come from a situation that required exemplary survival skills, like a natural disaster? Is your dog a puppy in an adult dog’s body? What makes your dog special can be a great tool to help you identify what area of advocacy you could be best suited for.

If your dog has a great athletic ability, consider joining a local dog “sports” club. AKC maintains a great searchable database to find agility clubs nationwide. This can be an impactful way to demonstrate what the human-canine connection can achieve in your community. If your dog’s story of natural-or-human inflicted survival moves you to action, the Humane Society of the United States offers Disaster Animal Response Teams (DART) training for individuals whose innate instinct in times of crisis is to help. Love that your dog is an eternal puppy? Foster an at-risk puppy at your local shelter and give your dog a temporary buddy to help burn off that puppy energy. Your dog’s own lovable qualities can help point your heart in the right direction.

Finally, decide what time you have available to help. Five minutes a week? Help cross post dogs in-need on social media. Thirty minutes free? Post flyers around your neighborhood or place of work to help a neighbor whose dog is missing or advertise for a local rescue throwing a dog-friendly event. One hour? Pick up a bag of dog food during a routine grocery store trip and donate it to a local pet food bank. Helping homeless and in-need dogs is something that everyone, who has a moment or an hour to spare, can help with.

Need help figuring out how you can make a difference for homeless and in-need dogs? Tweet me.

Jessi Freud is a dog advocate who has been volunteering with rescues and shelters for nearly 10 years. Most recently, she was a volunteer news writer for Best Friends Animal Society and an active volunteer with Texas-based shelter Austin Pets Alive! This fall, Jessi begins her first year in law school where she plans to get involved in the world of animal law. Follow her on Twitter

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