May 23, 2024

Dog Training Points Trained Companions

Happy Paws, Trained Hearts

2 Women Helping Solve The National Pet Adoption Crisis

3 min read

Overflowing animal shelters have become a national crisis.

According to annual data collected by the nonprofit Shelter Animals Count (SAC), more than 6.5 million animals (3.3 million cats and 3.2 million dogs) entered animal shelters and rescue organizations in 2023. Shelters are now entering their fourth consecutive year of having too many animals and not enough adoptions—especially for dogs. The greatest concern is that 900,000 more dogs and cats have entered shelters than left them, further overburdening an already taxed system.

Most of us heard that pet adoptions skyrocketed during the pandemic. What we didn’t hear is that the majority of these animals were not adopted from shelters or rescue groups, but rather purchased from pet stores, puppy mills or private home breeders. In fact, the total number of animals adopted in 2020 was actually the lowest compared to every other year since 2017. This trend continues today, with Forbes Advisor Pet Adoption Statistics 2024 indicating that only 23% of dog owners adopted their pets from a shelter.

What can be done to fix this unfortunate situation? The solution is quite simple: People can choose to adopt a pet from a shelter or rescue group, rather than purchasing one from another source.

“Many people don’t consider how the source of their pet can either help alleviate the shelter crisis or compound it,” said Stephanie Filer, the executive director of SAC, in an exclusive interview with me. “Adopting a pet is the most sustainable and socially conscious choice. For those not ready to adopt, fostering temporarily is also a fantastic way to make a difference.”

Technology can also help. Nicole Patrick is the founder of CEO of Rescue Spot, a web and mobile platform that streamlines and standardizes the pet adoption process for both rescue organizations and adopters. Rescue Spot allows adopters to search and match with pets from rescues and shelters nationwide, and then apply instantly using a one-time universal application. It also offers insurance and enables fostering.

“Think of us as the Common App for pets,” Patrick said in an exclusive interview with me. “Traditionally, the adoption process takes over seven hours of searching and applying for pets and weeks of waiting to hear back. With Rescue Spot, the entire process takes less than 40 minutes.”

Growing up, Patrick wanted to become a veterinarian. At 17, she visited a high-end pet store in NYC, where she saw a tiny Pomeranian who was clearly very sick. She tried to get help from a rescue organization, but no one responded. So, she ended up adopting the dog herself – even though the poor pup had terrible health issues for years.

“This opened my eyes to the cruelty of puppy mills and pet stores,” Patrick says. She spent years researching the pet adoption process, and realized that it suffered from some major, systemic problems. “Some websites that exist to search for pets are quite outdated. Even after you find a pet, you still must visit a separate site unique to the rescue or shelter, fill out a lengthy application, and then wait weeks to hear back.” Eventually, during the pandemic, she founded Rescue Spot.

“I always feel motivated to solve problems because I know that the effort will directly help save animals lives. I am part of something larger than myself,” Patrick says.

To other people looking to align their career with their life purpose, Patrick offers this advice. “Volunteer—find new hobbies, do something you’re afraid of. Even if it sounds crazy—like living in a tent in Africa for months with wild cheetahs, like I did. You never know what hobby may turn into a career. When it does, you’ll never feel like you’re working another day in your life.”

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