Be a Hero, Find a Best Friend

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Maggie has been waiting since March. April arrived in April.

Every day, these dogs wait in their kennels at the Humane Society of Genesee County. They watch people walk by. Now and then, someone will offer one of these girls a smile, or even slip a finger through their cages to give them a little pat.

Maggie and April are among 3.5 million dogs who enter shelters every year. The reality is, some will have a much longer wait than others, before finding their fur-ever homes. According to companionanimalpsychology.com, puppies spend the least time in shelters, and are adopted within 30 days on average. Length of stay at shelters, however, tends to increase the older a dog is.

April is three years old. Maggie is four. Age is an issue when adopting adult dogs because a lot of people hate the idea of adopting and bonding with an animal, only to lose them within just a few years.

This is too bad, because older dogs are often already trained and calmer than a younger dog, especially a puppy. You also don’t have to wonder how big an older dog will get, because they’re already full grown.

The fact is, many adult dogs in shelters are there not because they have behavior issues, but often for heartbreaking reasons. If you stop and read cage cards you will see things like, “divorce,” “got too big,” “wasn’t what I expected” or “moved.”

Ironically, dogs don’t fault us for not being able to keep marriages together. They pay no attention to how big we get. Dogs are also far too loyal to relocate without taking us along. So, imagine living in a home with people you love who, suddenly, don’t want you anymore. Maybe you got too old, or they couldn’t get you to act the way they wanted you to. Maybe you put on some pounds. The next thing you know, they drop you off at a noisy shelter where you sit in a kennel, wondering what you did wrong. That’s what Maggie and April go through every day.

Age is not the only reason they have been waiting so long. Maggie is a black dog. It’s an odd statistic, but a fact: black dogs are the least-adopted.

April is a pit bull – a breed at the center of constant controversy. People often avoid them out of ignorance, or because of an increasing number of communities banning them.

Neither Maggie nor April understands any of this. They do not study statistics, and dogs are not prejudiced.

Unfortunately, like humans, dogs can become depressed and withdrawn. The longer a dog is locked in a kennel, the greater their risk for depression. The more depressed and withdrawn they become, the less attention these dogs will likely get from the dozens of people who pass their kennels each day.

That’s what happened to Dutchess. She spent months at the HSGC, becoming more withdrawn with each passing day. Fortunately for her, a human saw Dutchess’ photo online, and fell instantly in love.

Today, Dutchess is a happy, thriving, goofball, thanks to her human hero. His super-power: simply, love. Amazingly, the more love he gives, the more he gets in return.

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