National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day

  • Charles County,St Mary's County,Calvert County
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Hughesville, MD - “This is the best place to get a pet and they’re saving the life of an animal who needs a home, is fully vetted already and these animals are grateful for those who adopt them,” said Kim Stephens, supervisor of the Tri-County Animal Shelter. Sunday, April 30 is National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day and there are hundreds of animals in Southern Maryland who need good homes.

If you’re considering the addition of a furry family member, Stephens said make sure you do your homework ahead of time. “Families should research breeds and decide which type of dog would fit in their lifestyle. Are you looking for an active breed or a couch potato? Do you live in a house or apartment? And make sure you’re aware of any medical issues that certain breeds tend to have. By adopting a mix breed, you’re likely to have less medical issues than a pure bred.”

When you first visit a shelter try to get as much background on the animal from shelter. “Don’t let cuteness pull you in--get the background info.” Stephens said. She also said it’s important to make an adoption a family affair. “Everyone who lives in the home should come to meet the animals so they find the right one who fits with the family. Also, bring other animals in the home to get an indication of how they’re going to interact with each other.”

If you’re concerned about the animal’s background, shelters do behavioral testing before they’re placed for adoption. “We walk the dogs and see how they do and we get an idea of who they mix with. We tug on ears and toes. We’ll take away their food to make sure they’re not food aggressive and we’ll introduce them to another dog to see how they do with that. If they do well with the testing at the shelter where they’re typically stressed out, they’ll do better at home.” Stephens noted.

Stephens said there are a number of reason why pets find themselves in a shelter. The biggest reason--they’re moving and the new landlords won’t allow dogs or cats. “Other animals are also given up because they were adopted and the family decided the animal was not a good fit.”

Many dog lovers find themselves set on owning a pure bred dog. “We get those too—we just don’t have the papers. About 25 percent are pure bred,” Stephens explained. If you have your heart set on a pure bred, many shelters will also help refer you to breed specific rescues who have dogs in foster homes.

Stephens said it’s vital to adopt from a shelter because you’re saving a life. “You’ll save a life—not only are you saving the life of the animal you adopt but you’re opening a new spot for another animal. All of our animals are already spayed and neutered, microchipped and vaccinated. Breeders don’t typically offer those things—just first round of shots.”

The Tri-County Animal Shelter adopts out about 900 animals a year and that includes dogs, cats, guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits, reptiles and farm animals. Stephen said, “Always check with us first and we can find a rescue for you.” It costs $125 to adopt a dog, $85 for cats. Adoption prices vary for other animals.

If you don’t have room in your home for a furry family member, you can help in other ways Stephens said. “Volunteers are always needed. You can also consider fostering a pet on a short term basis. Donations are always welcomed; items like toys, kitty litter  and food."

If you’d like to see the animals available for adoption at the Tri-County Animal Shelter, click here.

If you do adopt a pet on Sunday, share pictures of your pet on social media using #AdoptAShelterPetDay.

Contact Joy Shrum at

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