AUSTIN, TX — Wednesday is National Dog Day, and an increasing number of people in Austin and other U.S. cities are turning to new four-legged friends to fend off loneliness and isolation doldrums amid the coronavirus pandemic.
What's more, some shelters are seeing a surge in demand for dog adoptions, according to Sarah Brasky, the founder and executive director of Foster Dogs Inc., a New York-based nonprofit that helps get dogs out of shelters and into foster homes.
“Shelter dogs are really winning in this entire coronavirus experience,” Brasky told The Associated Press. “It’s a strange phenomenon because there was always interest in fostering and rescue, but now it is exploding.”
In some places, such as New York, adopting a dog could prove a bit more difficult now than in the past.
Last year at this time, Brasky’s organization was accepting applications from about 140 people per month. This year, that number spiked to about 3,000, she told the AP.
Another example is at the nonprofit shelter Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles, where adoptions were double their usual rate in late June and a waiting list had formed for certain types of dogs, according to the Washington Post.
However, don’t be discouraged by the recent boon in adoptions. If you’ve been thinking about adding a new four-legged friend to your family, there are still dogs available for adoption in the United States, and plenty of animal shelters nearby to learn about pet ownership and meet your new furry love.
Ahead of the pawsitively momentous day (sorry), holiday experts at National Today — the internet’s top authority for holidays — surveyed 3,000 Americans about their furmidable, furry friends and found some tidbits that will give you paws (again, sorry):
The majority of dog owners (70 percent) would prefer to spend time with their dogs versus people
Nearly a quarter of men (23 percent) would prefer to spend time with their dogs than go on a date
Nearly 4 in 10 women (39 percent) would prefer spending time with their dogs to dating
68 percent of dog owners allow their dog to sleep with them at least once a month.
The Lone Star State is no slouch as it relates to loving their doggies. According to National Today, Texas ranks in the top ten dog-loving states. Here's the list:
2. New York
The nation's dog lovers aren't shy about showing their canine affection with cash, showering their four-legged amigos with human largesse. Americans spent $95.7 billion on their pets in 2019, with almost $37 billion going toward pet food and treats alone, researchers at SmartAsset found. That figure may grow as many dog shelters nationwide recently reported an uptick in foster and adoption interest during the coronavirus lockdown, researchers noted.
SmartAsset researchers sniffed out the statistics, digging up data to compile a list of the best U.S. cities for dog owners and their four-legged friends to call home. The Texas capital city was ranked highly, cracking the top 11 list of dog-friendly cities nationwide.
Graphic provided by SmartAsset.
No other Texas city cracked the top 25 list, proving that Austin residents love their dogs more than at other cities in the state. It's enough to make us howl with pride.
Austin tied with Minneapolis, Minnesota, as the No. 10 dog-friendly city. The capital city ranked first and fifth, respectively, for its high numbers of dog-friendly shopping centers (28) and restaurants (495), allowing canine companionship in more of the places people frequent. Austin also ranked 31st-highest in the study for concentration of pet stores and vet offices, at approximately 65 per 10,000 establishments. What's more, Austin has 1.3 dog parks per 100,000 residents, ranking 37th-highest.
Here are five things to know about adopting a dog during the pandemic:
1) Despite reports from shelters, dog adoptions nationwide are actually down in 2020.
According to an industry report by PetPoint, a data management software used by animal shelters, 32,474 dogs were adopted in July 2020, representing a 22 percent decrease from the previous year. The numbers of dogs adopted in April, May and June of 2020 were also down from 2019.
2) Owner surrenders of dogs are also down amid the pandemic.
Call it an affirmation of our desire to keep four-legged family members nearby during the pandemic, but dog surrenders are also down by about 24 percent this year, according to the same report by PetPoint.
3) There are still plenty of dogs (and cats) taken to shelters that won’t get adopted.
According to data by the ASPCA, 3.3 million dogs are taken into shelters each year, but only 1.6 million are adopted. Also, 44 percent of Americans say they adopted their dog, indicating adoption is the preferred method when it comes to adding a new four-legged family member.
If you’re more of a cat person, the numbers are similar — 3.2 million cats are taken in each year, and only 1.6 million are adopted, according to the ASPCA.
4) Your risk of catching COVID-19 from a new dog is low.
Despite some isolated cases of dogs testing positive for the coronavirus, Dr. Douglas Kratt, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, recently told Clear The Shelters, "it doesn’t appear that pets are playing a role in spreading the virus."
While Klatt encouraged potential pet owners to not be fearful, he did advise caution. The AVMA suggests the following guidelines to keep you and your dog safe:
Wash your hands after caring for or playing with your pets, and before and after feeding them.
Keep their bedding, food and water bowl, and collars and leashes clean.
Social distance with your pet from other people and their pets.
5) Reach out to local animal shelters to meet a new pup.
Whether you’re seriously committed to adopting a dog or just thinking about it, the best step forward is to contact a local animal rescue group or shelter to inquire about availability, possible waiting lists, and what is included in the application process.
To start, here are some shelters in the Austin area to contact:
Austin Animal Center, 7201 Levander Loop | (512) 974-2000.
Austin Humane Society, 124 W. Anderson Lane | (512) 646-7387.
Austin Pets Alive!1156 W Cesar Chavez St. | (512) 961-6519.
Pflugerville Animal Welfare Services, 1600 Waterbrook Dr. | (512) 990-6280.
Gold Ribbon Rescue, 1101 W. 34th St. | (512) 659-4653.
Thundering Paws, 12812 Shops Parkway, Suite 400, Bee Cave, TX | (512) 402-9725.
Central Texas SPCA, 909 S. Bagdad Rd., Leander, Texas | (512) 260-7722.
Texas Humane Heroes, 10930 E Crystal Falls Parkway, Leander, Texas | (512) 260-3602.
Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter, 1855 SE Inner Loop, Georgetown, Texas | (512) 943-3322.
PAWS Shelter of Central Texas, 500 FM 150 East, Kyle, Texas | (512) 268-1611.
City of Georgetown Animal Shelter, 110 Walden Dr., Georgetown, Texas | (512) 930-3592.
Lifelong Friends Pet Adoptions (open by appointment only), 20803 Ranch Rd. 1431, Lago Vista, Texas | (512) 267-6876.
San Marcos Regional Animal Shelter, 750 River Rd., San Marcos, Texas | (512) 805-2650.
Lake Austin Boulevard Animal Hospital, 2301 Lake Austin Blvd. | (512) 474-8888.
Lockhart Animal Shelter, 547 Old McMahan Trail, Lockhart, Texas | (512) 376-3336.
Since the first celebration in 2004, National Dog Day has grown and is now celebrated across the world, National Day reports. To help spread the word further, advocates for the holiday now join forces with many rescue partners, including The Human Society of The United States and West Coast Labrador Retriever Rescue, according to the site. Together they draw attention to the number of dogs that are without a home and try to actively encourage people searching for a dog to visit an adoption shelter instead of a pet store, officials added.
Since the first day back in 2004, National Today reported, it is estimated that approximately 1 million dogs have been saved through adoption in the U.S. "For dog owners that aren’t looking to add to their family, National Dog Day has become a day for treating their friend like the legend they are and enjoying the connection that we’ve built up with dogs over thousands of years," the site added.
National Today offered some compelling canine statistics:
NATIONAL DOG DAY BY THE NUMBERS
3.3 million – Dogs entering U.S animal shelters every year.
670,000 – Dogs are euthanized in the U.S each year.
1.6 million – Shelter dogs are adopted each year.
620,000 – Stray dogs returned to their owners each year.
79 million – Pet dogs in the U.S.
44 percent: Households in the U.S with a pet dog.
23 percent: Pet dogs acquired via an animal shelter.
34 percent: Pet dogs purchased from a breeder.
25 percent: Dogs entering animals shelters are purebred.
10 percent: Animals received by shelters are spayed or neutered.
5 FACTS ABOUT DOGS THAT WILL BLOW YOUR MIND
They sleep in a circle to protect their organs. This comes from when they were wild and vulnerable to predator attacks.
The shape of a dog’s face determines their lifespan. A longer face on a dog means they will have a longer lifespan.
There are 75 million pet dogs in the U.S. There are more pet dogs in the U.S. than any other country.
They have an amazing sense of smell. A dog’s nose has 300 million receptors, whereas us as humans have 5 million.
A dog’s nose print is unique. A dogs nose print is just as unique as a human fingerprint.