International Dog Day falls on 26 August every year. It was founded in 2004 by Colleen Paige, a Pet & Family Lifestyle Expert and Animal Advocate, to draw attention to the number of dogs in shelters and to encourage adoption. You can read more about the history of International Dog Day here!
Here are some suggestions from the PetExpo Team on how to celebrate:
1. Adopt or Foster a Rescue Dog
If your home, lifestyle and budget allows it, adopt or foster a dog or two from your local rescue organisation. While this is hugely rewarding, keep in mind that rescue dogs can sometimes have pre-existing health and behaviour concerns, so you will need to be prepared to dedicate time and funds to tackle these challenges.
2. Make a Donation
Donations to your local welfare organisation are always welcome, no matter how humble. Money, dog food, tick & flea control medication, grooming products, toys, leashes, collars, or blankets can be put to good use, or, if the shelter has a charity shop, donate old clothing, books, furniture, etc for them to sell to raise funds.
3. Volunteer your Time
If you don't have the means to make a donation, you could dedicate some of your time to help at a local welfare organisation instead. Many shelters are in need of a few extra helping hands to assist with grooming, walking, socialising and training their furry residents. This could be a once off occurrence, or you could consider making a weekly or monthly commitment.
4. Hold a Fundraiser
Get creative and find an innovative and convenient way to raise some much needed funds for your favourite shelter. You could hold a Facebook Auction of the household items you no longer use. Encourage your friends to sponsor you R50 per kilogram lost while you work towards your weight-loss goals. If you love baking, make something delicious to sell at your office and then donate all the profits. If you are a business owner, run a special on your services or products and donate a percentage of the profits. There are endless possibilities, and any small amount raised will make a big difference.
5. Use Your Expertise
Use your professional skills or your favourite hobby to help an animal shelter. For example, if you're a designer, offer some design work to help promote a welfare's upcoming fundraiser. If you are a contractor, offer to put your skills to good use by fixing a few of the kennels. Photographer? Take cute photos of the doggos for use on Social Media to help them find their fur-ever homes.
6. Create Awareness
Animal shelters need to be well-known by the general public in order to raise funds and find homes for their rescues, but they may not have sufficient budget for a good marketing campaign. Help to spread the word by sharing a link to their website or Facebook Page on your social media, or by purchasing and displaying a branded bumper sticker, or by purchasing and wearing their branded clothing! Repetition is important in publicity, and the more often a rescue organisation's branding is seen, the better it will be remembered and supported.
Prevention is better than cure. Adoptions from, donations to, volunteering at, and promotion of welfare organisations would not be necessary at all if pets were not surrendered or lost to begin with. Education is a crucial cornerstone in the prevention of dogs ending up in shelters. However you can, find a way that is convenient for you to spread valuable information about responsible pet ownership. For example, share educational content from canine professionals like behaviourists, trainers, ethical preservation breeders, breed-specific welfare organisations, etc on social media. (But be sure to check that the facts are accurate first!) Create your own social media campaign or pet event with the goal of providing valuable information on a pet-related topic that close to your heart. Lead by example by being a responsible pet owner and share your pet adventures on a personal blog or Instagram account. Offer friendly assistance, rather than unkind judgement, to those who need to learn better pet husbandry.