I was turned in as a young pup with my mom and six brothers and sisters. It was like being dropped at an orphanage in a basket. We were just babies and my mom was called “Placer Hound.” Placer County isn’t a bad place to be turned in. They took good care of us, and when I was a few weeks old I met my human mom and dad. I was sick with a nasty cough and had to visit the vet. My mom worked at the vet’s office and saw something in me. She told my dad that if I lived, which wasn’t a sure thing at the time, she would adopt me. Without that turn of luck I would have most likely ended up at the shelter in Tahoe Vista or with a local rescue group until I found a home.

My brother Indy was rescued by the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe from a shelter that would have euthanized him for space. Unfortunately, this is not a unique situation. Across the United States, 3 million adoptable dogs and roughly the same amount of cats are euthanized each year because there is no room for them. This is happening in shelters within 50 miles of Truckee. Any one of these animals could have been a gifted newspaper writer, or simply a happy Tahoe dog that spends summers on the trails and in the lakes. As with many things, the problem isn’t with us dogs. Here are a few things you can do.

1. Don’t buy a dog. It’s not that I don’t think we are worth the money. If you really need to spend money on your new pet, use it on training classes. Adopt from a local shelter. Great local groups include the Wylie Animal Rescue Foundation, the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe, High Sierra Animal Rescue, Pet Network, and the Nevada Humane Society in Sparks. A great resource is PetFinder.com, which has pets from thousands of rescue groups and information to help you in your search. I like cruising the Pet Finder site because I can look for cute, young, male dogs, kind of like Match.com. I’m part lab, part cougar.

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2. Since I brought up dating, no two words say romance more than spay and neuter. One great way to help out my friends is to get them fixed. I have seen way too many testicles this summer. If you need a reason to spay and neuter your pet besides the millions of adoptable animals that are euthanized each year, consider that spayed and neutered pets live longer, cost less, and display less aggression.

3. Get a mutt. Mixed breed pets live longer and are healthier than their purebred counterparts. If you must get a specific breed, contact your local shelter and let them know what you’re looking for. Google the breed you want followed by the word “rescue” and you will be surprised at what you will find. Labradors, golden retrievers, and just about any breed you can think of have multiple rescue organizations dedicated to finding homes for their specific breed.

4. If you still want to get a pet from breeder, do your homework. Most breeders are not responsible. The Humane Society of the United States publishes breeder guidelines. A responsible breeder will encourage multiple visits before you adopt a pet and will want to know how you will care for your pet. A good breeder will require you to spay or neuter your pet unless you are going to show them. Before you go this route, check out the full list of guidelines.

Take your time finding a new friend. Remember, this can be a 10- to 15-year commitment. Be a part of the solution. Don’t breed or buy while shelter animals die.

~ Comment on this column below.

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