It’s a whole month dedicated to dog adoption!

If there’s one thing we’re enthusiastic about beyond making meals and treats for dogs and cats, it’s seeing those same dogs and cats discover new, loving homes. A caring family is precious to any pet, with the tragedy being that millions of animals still languish in shelters across the country (and the world). When some people look to get a pet, they still tend to turn to pet stores or breeders, many of whom don’t truly care for the well-being of the dogs and cats they put up for sale.

However, this trend is beginning to shift as people continue to put emphasis on adopting animals from shelters rather than more commercialized sources. There’s an average of 3-4 million dogs in shelters each year, waiting to be adopted–and some of them are sadly euthanized when no one comes to take them home. But you can help change this!

This whole month is set to focus on adopting shelter dogs, encouraging people to find a new four-legged family member via shelter and foster agencies whenever possible. So are you considering adopting a new dog? Even if not, there are ways you can help support the adopt-a-shelter-dog initiative.

For instance, have you made sure your dog is spayed or neutered? A big part of the shelter dog problem is overpopulation. Not only does this help reduce the number of stray or feral animals shelters have to deal with, but it’s been shown that spaying/neutering your pet can help it lead longer, healthier lives.

And be sure to ID-chip your pet as well. If you already have, make sure the info the chip contains is up-to-date. It’s usually just a matter of time before an animal escapes, even if temporarily. But only 1-in-10 of lost pets actually get reunited with their family. You can increase your chances of finding your beloved pup again if they have a current ID chip vets or shelters can use to contact you. This also lets you easily reduce the stress a shelter might have caring for lost animals.

Lastly, just be sure to spread the word! If you have family or friends who are thinking of getting a dog, inspire them to visit their local shelter and discover the animals already waiting for them there.

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