National Pet Day 2012 — Adopt, Don't Shop!

Today marks the sixth annual National Pet Day, founded by celebrity pet lifestyle expert and animal welfare advocate Colleen Paige and sponsored by Animal Miracle Foundation and Network, and the message couldn't be clearer — when you're adding a pet to your family, adopt, don't shop. And that goes for all kinds of animals, not just cats and dogs.

There's Always an Animal Looking for a Home

"There's a whole slew of other animals that need homes — farm animals, birds, bunnies, gerbils, horses. To each his own when it comes to what you consider a pet," Paige says. "You can find all kinds of animals in shelters, so be sure to check there when you're looking for a hamster. If your local shelter can't help, try the newspaper, try Craigslist. Whatever kind of animal you're looking for, there's one somewhere just waiting to be adopted."

Birds — parrots, in particular — tend to end up in shelters because they're so vocal. "They tend to be abused because people get sick of [the noise] or cleaning the cage. And birds are very sensitive," Paige says, which means the parrots who end up in shelters and rescues are in dire need of a loving family.

How the Holiday Helps

Colleen Paige
National Pet Day founder, Colleen Paige

National Pet Day is one of several animal-related holidays Paige has founded, and she's seen big results. "I've heard stories about how National Pet Day led to the rescue of a little billy goat that had been basically starved; he was skin and bones when he was brought into the rescue. The rescue was able to help him recover in foster care, and then he was adopted by a family that had a farm and children. A year later, he was a fat, happy billy goat." She has similar stories about a parrot who'd plucked out all his feathers and bunnies who had lived in squalor, all of whom are now living with families that adore them.

Don't Wait — Celebrate!

"National Pet Day is all about the joy of animals, incorporating pets into your life and teaching children compassion and how to care for animals," Paige says. Even if you're not in a position to adopt an animal right now, this is a great chance to help your child — and his or her friends — understand that animals have feelings and depend on us to keep them safe and healthy.

Whether you have human children or not, the holiday is also a perfect opportunity to show the animals in your life some extra love. "If you have dogs or cats, give them a special toy, or take a family photo," Paige suggests. "Have a caged pet? Think about something nice you can do for them. When did you last change the bedding or give them a treat?"

If you take a fun picture of your pet, of course, we'd love to see it (you can always share your photos over at Vetstreet's Facebook page), but be sure to also share with other animal lovers at the National Pet Day Facebook page and on Twitter at @NationalPetDay.

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