Wagging Dog Rescue’s Guide to Responsible Pet Ownership

Top 5 Reasons to Think before you Buy!

By Diane T., Emily C., and Amanda C.
February 20, 2021

Americans sure do love our pets! The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) estimates that in the United States:

  • 48 million households have at least one dog
  • Nearly 32 million have a cat!

That’s a whole lotta furry love! The lucky ones are treated like family and are afforded the affection and care they deserve. Not all are so fortunate however. The ASPCA estimates that in the US, there are approximately: 

  • 6.5 million dogs and cats enter into our country’s 3,500 shelters annually
  • 3.2 million of whom are adopted
  • 1.5 million of whom are euthanized (670,000 dogs, 860,000 cats)
    • That’s over 75 dogs killed every hour of every day, and almost 100 cats!

Euthanasia is not a form of population control.

Wagging Dog Rescue was founded after The Rescue Lady spent time volunteering at a local shelter and saw firsthand how many good family pets are euthanized each year due to lack of kennel space and lack of resources to help medically or behaviorally challenged animals. WDR’s mission is not only to rescue and find homes for animals in need, but also to educate and help our community! We are passionate about our animals and our cause so we have compiled this guide to happy, healthy pet ownership.  Our hope is that you use it to help you decide if the time is right for you to meet your new four-legged best friend.

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” 


#1: Don’t add to the population problem: Spay or neuter your pet.

In 1979, The Price is Right game show host Bob Barker started ending the show by saying – “This is Bob Barker reminding you to help control the pet population — have your pets spayed or neutered.” Bob helped to spark the conversation, but the work of educating folks and ending the homeless pet situation is far from over. 

Beyond the obvious benefit of decreasing the number of unwanted pets as evidenced in the statistics above, spaying or neutering your pet has medical and behavioral benefits as well!

  • Your pet will live longer! Spaying and neutering prevents infections, tumors, cancers, and a host of other reproductive related health problems!
  • Ever heard a cat yowl? You won’t if you spay your female cat! Female kitties usually go into heat for several days every few weeks during breeding season. The incessant yowling and peeing they do during that time should be enough for anyone to see the benefit of sterilization! Female dogs have an equally nasty way of bringing the boys to the yard, so spay her, too!
  • Got an escape artist or a roamer? Chop off his danglers and he won’t have that instinct to seek out a mate! You’ll still need to leash him up or keep the gate closed but he won’t be as likely to dash out the door into traffic or find other, more creative ways out of the yard. Let’s be honest, those crotch plums are pretty unsightly as well. Neutered is definitely cuter!
  • Stop the humping! All dogs (and sometimes cats!) – if given the chance or if the mood strikes just right – will hump a leg, each other, a bed, the air, you name it! The sooner you sterilize, the less likely they’ll be to keep up that annoying behavior. Removing the hormones that come from reproductive organs will reduce the desire to mark or spray too. So save your pant leg and your rugs .. spay or neuter your pet!
  • Not that expensive! Let’s face it, spay and neuter surgery is way less costly in both time and money than raising a litter. And there are many low cost options available now so contact us if you need help finding your local resources!

#2: A pet is a lifetime commitment!

Even if you keep the receipt, there are no exchanges, refunds or returns on an animal’s life. That wriggling, adorable ball of fur is counting on you. Animals are sentient beings with emotions, memories and personalities. They possess the same level of intelligence as a toddler, some even equal to that of a 4-5 year old – the kid who will never grow up and move out. You are your pet’s entire world. They are 100% reliant on you for every facet of their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing – till death do you part.

A new pup will likely mistake your best shoes for chew toys and may pee on your rugs. Maybe they’ll bark at every noise outside or any new person who walks through the door. This is normal so be prepared! In many ways pets are like children exploring their world and pushing the boundaries. As with two-legged children, it’s up to the parents to provide the guidance and structure they need to mature into their best selves!

We domesticated dogs and cats thousands of years ago; it’s our responsibility to care for them. They are not disposable objects who can be set aside when the going gets tough or behavior becomes unruly. Beyond the basics of food and shelter, dogs and cats require attention, training, exercise, grooming, medical care, time, money, and more. The reward for your commitment is a lifetime of love and entertainment! Just make sure you are ready and willing to cope with the rowdy behaviors along with the smooches and snuggles!

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter” 

― Martin Luther King Jr.

#3: Read the price tag. It’s more than you think.

The American Kennel Club estimates that the average cost of responsible dog ownership from puppy to senior can be as much as $20,000 on average! This includes adoption fees, spay/neuter surgery, vaccinations, regular vet checks, dental cleanings, grooming, food, treats, toys, beds… the list goes on and on! This is all to say that if you’re going to take responsibility for the life of an animal, you need to make sure you can afford the basics. Insider tip: Medical needs will always cost more than you think, so look into pet insurance or put away a little $$ each month so you’re prepared for those vet bills!  

Check out this article from Rover.com to learn more about annual pet spending! 

#4:  Adopt. Don’t shop.

If you think you’re ready to take the plunge, please consider adopting a pet from a local shelter or reputable rescue organization such as Wagging Dog Rescue. Now that you’ve seen our nation’s statistics in black and white, you have the power to help improve those numbers by giving a homeless animal a loving forever home. While breeders make money from the reproductive organs of companion pets, rescues and shelters rehab and care for the discarded ones including those fancy “purebred” animals who are abandoned at shelters by people ill-prepared for the responsibilities of pet ownership.

We love the pets we rescue as if they were our own. Our model is foster-based which means all of our Orphans are in private loving foster homes, not kennels. Our foster families take time to understand each animal’s needs and in many cases, they help undo the physical, mental and emotional damage wrought by their previous life. Added benefit of adopting from a foster-based rescue: OUR DOGS ARE WELL MANNERED AND ALREADY TRAINED!

#5:  Not ready to adopt? Foster. Can’t foster? Donate.

In addition to supporting causes you believe in, you might be surprised to learn that charitable giving is actually a two-way street.  

Did you know:

  • Giving can actually make you feel better. According to the National Institute of Health, charitable giving actually stimulates the pleasure centers of the brain. Who knew?
  • Giving brings more meaning to your life. The act of donating to causes you believe in, and seeing that your contributions matter, is enormously powerful
  • Giving isn’t about a number. Don’t believe for a minute that small donations don’t matter. They do. When combined with the donations of like-minded others, charitable giving can have a multiplier effect.  Your gift, whether large or small, can make all the difference to those in need, whether they walk on two legs or four. 

Dog or cat.  Adopt or foster. Donate or volunteer. You can make a real difference in the life of an animal in need!


Who we are:

Wagging Dog Rescue champions the rights of animals worldwide and works to create a better future for all lives. We rescue orphaned animals from shelters and streets in California and beyond who have no other options and are at risk of euthanasia or worse, who may need medical care or rehabilitation, and who will one day be restored to their rightful place as a cherished family member. We advocate responsible pet parenting, fight discrimination and dedicate ourselves to educating our communities in order to achieve our goal of a compassionate future for all life.

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