dog rescue, euthanasia, foster dogs, fostering, oph, shelters


Here’s an amazing fact I learned recently from Kim Kavin, author of The Dog Merchants:

If just half of the people who decide to get a dog this year were to adopt one from a shelter or rescue instead of purchasing one from a breeder or pet store, we would empty out the shelters and rescues.

Problem solved. As Kim explained in an e-mail, what we have in the US is not a dog overpopulation problem, but a marketing problem.

marketing problem.jpg

Kim’s a journalist and an engaging author who has now written two well-researched and yet from-the-heart books. The first (Little Boy Blue) tells the story of the rescue puppy she adopted and all that she learned when she decided to investigate the story behind how he landed in her home. The Dog Merchants is about the big business of dogs – not just breeders and pet stores, but rescues, shelters and consumers. As is always the case, where there is big money involved, there are generally people taking advantage and people being taken advantage of, and sadly, many times the dogs pay the real price. Both books are fascinating, entertaining, and will likely make you cry. Kim has been gracious and generous to me, reading the manuscript for a book I’m working on (aptly titled, Another Good Dog) and sharing her experiences and knowledge of the world of dog rescue.

One of the topics we’ve discussed is the wide range of rescues. She’s seen the good, the bad, and the ugly, but probably a lot more of the bad and ugly than I have. Her experience fostering dogs has been a bit different than mine. I’m very proud to say that the rescue I work with, Operation Paws for Homes (OPH) does rescue right, in a world where many well-meaning rescues get it terribly wrong.

I’ve tried to remember how I discovered OPH, but think it came down to dumb luck and Facebook. I just happened to see a post at just the right time and found my way into this amazing organization. Hearing Kim’s stories only makes me more committed to doing all I can to promote this fabulous organization that is not only passionate about dog rescue, but professional in how they treat volunteers, adopters, fosters, and shelters, but most importantly, dogs.

One of OPH’s mottos is “Together we rescue.” And there’s not a truer sentiment. Together we can rescue, but we need more people so that we can rescue more dogs.

Right now shelters all over the south are overwhelmed with a deluge of dogs. It’s also puppy season -the time when many dogs are giving birth and they and their offspring are being dumped at shelters daily. The brave people at OPH and other rescues who have the job of fielding the requests from shelters and then deciding which dogs we will pull, are receiving near daily emails asking for help. The more dogs we can pull, the fewer these shelters have to euthanize.

It weighs on a heart. I see the posts and the pleas and the pictures of these deserving dogs and I feel anxious. I want to do more, but right now my house is at capacity with Gala and Darlin’ and my own dog, Gracie.

I want so badly to take one of these mamas and/or their puppies, but I have nowhere to put them. I consider asking another foster to take one of my pups, but then I look at their sweet faces. Darlin’ has been here over three months and Gala nearly a month and a half. They have finally settled and feel like they are home, even though they aren’t. Both of these girls are sensitive souls- their next move must be to their forever homes. I feel my soul tap, tap, tapping impatiently. Time for them to move. There are too many dogs to rescue.

I used to hesitate to use the hashtag #adoptdontshop, but I’m ready to tattoo it on my forehead. Yes, I understand that sometimes allergies dictate the kind of dog you get, and yes, I know there are responsible breeders out there, and yes, I realize that sometimes a rescue dog needs more time to develop trust or requires an extra effort with training. But here’s the bottomline – until we no longer have to decide which dogs must die each week because no one wants them and no rescue has room for them and no shelter has the funds to continue to house them, we need to keep shouting it from the rooftops:


Please, please, please, adopt your next best friend from a rescue or shelter. Let’s fix this fixable problem. Let’s make the next problem be – we don’t know what to do about all these empty shelters.

If you’d like to part of the solution, get involved. If you’re looking for a dog, adopt. If you have room, foster. If you have time, volunteer. If you have money to give, give.

If you’ve ever considered fostering dogs for a rescue, I would encourage you to give it a try. The need for foster homes this time of year is huge. If you are in Maryland, Virginia, DC, or south-central PA, click here to find out how you can foster for OPH. If you live elsewhere check out a rescue or shelter near you – they all need foster homes.

OPH (and all rescues and shelters) always need more volunteers to check references, transport dogs, organize events, and a hundred other jobs, so if your home can’t hold another dog, but you’d like to help, jump right in. To volunteer for OPH, click here.

If you’d like to help OPH, consider making a donation. Adoption fees don’t begin to cover the cost of medical treatment and transport. In addition, OPH rescues pregnant dogs, litters, and heartworm positive dogs, but also pays to keep dogs in boarding when there are not enough foster homes available. Without fundraising, they could not do these things. Click here to donate to OPH, or look up a rescue near you.

Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! Go for a hike with your dog!



P.s. If you’d like to know more about my writing (or my next novel coming out JUNE 6!!), visit

12 thoughts on “ADOPT, DON’T SHOP”

    1. I’ve heard Canada actually is getting ahead of the problem. Their spay/neuter campaigns are working. That’s my greatest hope – that this will just take time, but we can beat this. I had no idea that the UK had these same problems. Sorry to hear that! For some reason, I assumed you were more evolved than us! Must be the accent – makes you all sound so smart.


      1. No we are not smart Cara, far from it, the kennels are full of Staffordshire Bull Terriers but people are still allowed to breed them and people buy them. Makes me so cross! The rescues are full and the kennels euthanase after 7 days. I can’t speak highly enough for the fosterers they really do save lives. Hopefully we can learn from Canada, the situation has got out of hand here. Thanks for your reply x


  1. Yes, Cara I need to nob my head in agreement to the folks who wrote about breeders. There are way too many animals that need loving homes and the shelters and rescue groups are teeming with lovable, adoptable pets of all kinds. There are even pedigrees!! My cats and dogs have either been rescued by me or adopted by a rescue group. I love your slogan and think you should make up bumper stickers and sell them! I will definitely buy one 🙂


    1. Thanks Laura – and thanks for rescuing your critters. I think it comes down to raising awareness. Too many people don’t know how incredible rescue dogs (and cats) are and too many people are unaware of how many animals are being euthanized each year. I’ll tell OPH to put their logo on a bumper sticker!


  2. Great blog Cara. Glad another one of your books is coming soon. Can’t wait to read it.
    OPH is the best. I adopted Potcake Riley last May and he is one of the best dogs I have ever had. I cannot say enough good about OPH and always telling people to go to OPH website if interested in adopting.


    1. Thanks Janice! I’ve never fostered a potcake, but hope to someday. They look like such great dogs. I saw a few in Grand Cayman when I was there a year ago. Thanks for the kind words and for saving a rescue dog!


  3. While I agree in principal, it is a lot harder to adopt than it should be. Some rescues are actually getting puppies from puppy mills and we wanted to avoid “retail rescues”. Some rescues make it difficult to impossible to actually adopt. We recently got a puppy and we had to go through a real hassle and multiple rescue organizations trying to find a rescue with a dog suitable for us. We ended up adopting from a neighbour’s oops litter because the local rescues that were not retail rescues were just so difficult to deal with. You have alluded to that in your post. Dog lovers should unit and demand better for our canine companions. There is a happy place between responsible adoptions and denying people adoptable dogs for stupid reasons.


    1. You should read The Dog Merchants – it really exposes some of the things you’re talking about and offers some real answers, too. Kim Kavin is an excellent journalist and an excellent advocate for dogs. I’m very proud of the rescue I work with because I think they do an excellent job of finding that happy place – not putting up hurdles for the sake of hurdles, but making sure that our dogs are going to responsible owners. Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. In your ideal house, if you could choose how many rooms it had and whether or not it had a basement for extra space (does your home have a basement?), how many dogs would you volunteer to foster at once? I know you’ve taken on large numbers of dogs at once before. Keep doing your part for man’s best friend, and letting us know about your efforts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You always ask such interesting questions Ana! I think in an ideal world, or my future house in VA, I’d foster two dogs upstairs, and a litter/mom situation in the (walk out) basement. I’d have two large fenced yards – one small one for puppies and one large one for foster dogs. The upstairs dogs would have a room for their crates, but would be integrated into our household. It’s fun to dream about it, but I do hope that I have a set up something like that some day. I think it would be hard to pay the proper attention to more dogs than that. (OH, and now I think I’d have an upstairs room where I fostered kittens!)


  5. Interesting. In your imagination, your house can be as big as you want it to be. I had visions of you maybe having a lot more dogs than that, given that I think the most you’ve had in your current home has been ten. But two dogs are good too… as are kittens. I like those.


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