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Every year, on May 20th, animal lovers and advocates come together to celebrate National Rescue Dog Day. This special day is dedicated to recognizing the countless rescue dogs in shelters and rescues across the country who are waiting for their forever homes. At Family Friends Veterinary Hospital, we believe in the importance of rescue and adoption, not just for the animals but for the families who welcome them into their lives. Join us as we explore the many benefits of adopting a rescue dog and how it can transform lives for the better.

The Origins of National Rescue Dog Day

National Rescue Dog Day was founded by Lisa Wiehebrink, author and Executive Director of Tails That Teach, an organization that educates children on the importance of kindness to animals. Inspired by her own rescue dog, Cooper, Lisa aimed to raise awareness about the plight of dogs in shelters and encourage people to consider adoption.

The State of Animal Shelters

According to the ASPCA, approximately 6.5 million companion animals enter U.S. animal shelters every year. Of these, around 3.3 million are dogs. While many of these animals are adopted, about 670,000 dogs are euthanized annually due to overcrowding and lack of resources. By choosing to adopt, you are not only saving a life but also making room for another animal in need.

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The Benefits of Adopting a Rescue Dog

  1. Saving a Life
    The most significant benefit of adopting a rescue dog is the opportunity to save a life. Shelters and rescue organizations are often overcrowded, and by adopting, you are providing a dog with a second chance at life and love.
  2. Combating Overpopulation
    Adoption helps combat the overpopulation problem. By choosing to adopt rather than buy from a breeder, you are reducing the demand for puppy mills and unethical breeding practices that contribute to the surplus of homeless animals.
  3. Health Benefits
    Rescue dogs can have numerous health benefits for their owners. Studies have shown that pet ownership can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and even improve heart health. The companionship of a dog can also alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  4. Behavioral and Emotional Advantages
    Many rescue dogs come from homes where they have been loved and cared for, and they can bring this socialization and training to their new homes. Additionally, rescue organizations often provide behavioral assessments and training for dogs, making the transition to a new home smoother.
  5. Teaching Responsibility and Compassion
    For families, adopting a rescue dog can be a wonderful way to teach children about responsibility and compassion. Caring for a pet requires commitment, and children can learn valuable life lessons through the process of adoption and care.
  6. Financial Benefits
    Adopting from a shelter or rescue is often more affordable than buying a dog from a breeder. Adoption fees typically cover vaccinations, spaying or neutering, and sometimes even microchipping, saving you money on initial veterinary costs.

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How to Choose the Right Rescue Dog

Selecting the right rescue dog for your family is an important decision. Here are some tips to help you find the perfect match:

  1. Assess Your Lifestyle
    Consider your lifestyle and how a dog will fit into it. Different breeds have different needs for exercise, grooming, and companionship. Make sure you choose a dog whose needs align with your daily routine and activity level.
  2. Visit Shelters and Meet Dogs
    Spend time visiting local shelters and rescues to meet the dogs. Interacting with them will give you a better sense of their personalities and how they might fit into your home.
  3. Ask Questions
    Don’t hesitate to ask the shelter staff questions about the dog’s history, behavior, and any special needs they might have. The more information you have, the better prepared you’ll be to provide a loving home.
  4. Consider Foster-to-Adopt
    Some shelters and rescues offer foster-to-adopt programs, where you can foster a dog for a trial period before making a permanent commitment. This can be a great way to see if the dog is a good fit for your family.

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Preparing Your Home for a Rescue Dog

Bringing a rescue dog home requires preparation to ensure a smooth transition:

  1. Create a Safe Space
    Set up a designated area where your new dog can feel safe and secure. This might include a cozy bed, toys, and access to water.
  2. Stock Up on Supplies
    Make sure you have all the necessary supplies, including food, a collar and leash, grooming tools, and any other essentials.
  3. Schedule a Veterinary Checkup
    Book an appointment with your veterinarian for a wellness checkup soon after bringing your new dog home. This will help address any health concerns and establish a baseline for their care.
  4. Establish a Routine
    Dogs thrive on routine, so establish a consistent schedule for feeding, walking, and playtime. This will help your new pet feel more secure and adjust to their new environment.

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How You Can Help

If you’re not in a position to adopt a dog, there are still many ways you can support rescue efforts:

  1. Volunteer
    Shelters and rescues often rely on volunteers to help with daily operations, animal care, and events. Your time and skills can make a significant difference.
  2. Donate
    Financial contributions, as well as donations of supplies such as food, blankets, and toys, are always needed and greatly appreciated by rescue organizations.
  3. Foster
    Fostering a dog can provide them with a temporary home and help them adjust to a family environment, increasing their chances of being adopted.
  4. Advocate
    Spread the word about the importance of adoption and rescue. Share information on social media, talk to friends and family, and participate in community events.


National Rescue Dog Day is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the joy and love that rescue dogs bring into our lives. By adopting a rescue dog, you are not only saving a life but also enriching your own. At Family Friends Veterinary Hospital, we are committed to supporting rescue efforts and encouraging our community to consider adoption. Together, we can make a difference, one dog at a time.

Happy National Rescue Dog Day!

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