Have you considered adopting a mutt?

You may not realize it, but mixed-breed dogs face a little extra peril in today’s society. We talk a good bit about pet shelters and pet adoption agencies here, because we want to give all animals the chance to find a new, lifelong home where they are loved and valued, no matter what–especially if that means helping them avoid being euthanized. But mutts are often and easily overlooked by those who are too focused on finding a pure bred dog or who are taken by the latest fad in “designer dogs” and don’t want a pup whose pedigree they can’t be absolutely certain of. Sometimes, this is because a person wants a very specific temperament from their dog and wants to be confident they’re not getting genetic predispositions from other, more unruly breeds in the mix. While understandable, this kind of bias does lead to mutts suffering from the highest rate of euthanasia in shelters.

Recognizing this plight, in 2005, animal advocate Colleen Paige founded National Mutt Day to help heighten awareness about (and hopefully the adoption of) mutts across the country. This is celebrated both on July 1st and December 2nd every year, with the annual goal of getting 10,000 mutts or more adopted.

One of the important things to do during National Mutt Day is to realize that mutts hold just as much intrinsic value and can be just as loyal, loving, and capable pets as any other pure breed. In fact, studies show that mutts tend to be healthier overall, have longer lifespans, and can be trained to perform any number of dog-related jobs (such as rescue operations, bomb-sniffing, or as guide dogs) just as well as pure bred dogs.

So the next time you’re thinking of adopting a dog, don’t overlook the mixed breeds just because you aren’t exactly sure what their genetic history is. In the end, that matters far less than the love you’re able to experience from them, and how much joy they’ll bring into your lives. If you can’t adopt right now, consider helping support a local shelter, either with donations of your time as a volunteer, funds, or resources. And spread the word to your friends and family about the reality of having a mutt as a pet! The more who know, the better a chance mutts stand of finding their forever homes.

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