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Each October, The American Humane Association’s “Adopt a Dog Month” is dedicated to making the public more aware of the overabundance of shelter dogs in the United States and how they can help.

Locally, Washington Are Humane Society is featuring – Woofstock 2020 – which went virtual Thursday.

Woofstock was supposed to be during the summer at Mingo Creek County Park. However, the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to be postponed and to go virtual this month.

Throughout October, individuals and their pets can join in helping Washington Area Humane Society as it “shops, raises and grooves” for shelter residents from their own homes. Individuals can shop from pet vendors, enter retriever raffles, take a picture or record a video for pet contests and raise funds for Washington Area Humane Society dogs.

“This is a big month for us,” said Taylor Duda, assistant director of community engagement for Washington Area Humane Society. “We’re going to have adoption specials. We are a no-kill shelter and that means every (dog) that comes in stays as long as it has to until a home is found.

“COVID has decreased our adoptions. If someone is lonely, needs their spirits lifted or wants a companion or someone or something to love, adopting a shelter dog is a great option,” Duda added. “A lot of our dogs are 2-years and older. They are almost all well-behaved and a little easier to deal with than a puppy.”

According to The American Humane Association – there are a number of misconceptions about the types of dogs found in shelters and the need for them to find a good “forever” home.

The Association said people often assume shelter dogs are there because they are unfriendly and won’t make a good pet.

The Association said the truth is there are multiple reasons why dogs end up in shelters: the dog could have been rescued from an abusive home; or its previous owner simply couldn’t afford to take care of it anymore.

Sometimes when families have to move into a smaller home or apartment, they have no choice but to give up their dogs. COVID-19 has increased the rate of people or families downsizing in terms of moving into smaller homes. That itself creates a bigger need for finding a forever home for animals.

The association points to important ways to assist this month. For those searchig for a dog, one of the best ways is to visit local shelters or online pet organizations with profiles of potential pets up for adoption and in need of a home.

Spreading the word about adopting a dog, as opposed to buying one, can help inform people who are looking for one.

One of the other ways one can help is to volunteer at an animal shelter. Another way to keep dogs social and in good health is having them stay with a family until a permanent home is found.

Fostering can be a good experience for a dog. Also, animal shelters are always in need of donations – in the form of food and supplies or money.

“There are so many good things a dog can offer like companionship and unwavering loyalty just for starters. Having a dog grow up with your children gives them a gift of unconditional love and a respect for animals,” according to The American Humane Association.

“Many people adopt a dog as a companion for themselves, so that they have someone to talk to at night, for example. Pets bring energy and happiness to an otherwise quiet home.

“Shelter dogs are dogs that need a second chance at a good home and are just looking for someone to love. Keep them in mind for the month of October.”

WAHS’ Woofstock promotion includes “top dog prizes” for top individual fundraiser and fundraising team and “Woofstock VIP prizes,” which includes a T-shirt and matching bandana – depending on the amount of money raised. The event also features weekly leader prizes.

“We will be active on Facebook,” Duda said. “This is an exciting time for us.”

For more information about Woofstock visit www.washingtonpashelter.org/woofstock.

Those interested in joining the Be Local Network can contact Chris Slota at 724-225-1326 or by email at chris@belocal.net. Discount cards are available at the Observer-Reporter and Almanac office, 122 S. Main St., Washington.

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