(BPT) - According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), approximately 6.5 million companion animals enter shelters nationwide every year, and of the total amount of animals in shelters, only about 3.2 million are adopted each year. That means millions of pets are still waiting for their forever homes. When you adopt from your local animal shelter, you're giving a pet a loving home, while also helping to reduce the number of animals still waiting.
And the good news is, when you change your companion animal’s life, you change yours as well.
"Providing a shelter pet a forever home is a life-changing experience for both the pet and their human,” said Dr. Sandra Lyn, manager, Global Pet Behavior & Welfare at Purina. "It will take patience, and a lot of one-on-one time, but as your new family member adjusts to his or her surroundings, a strong bond will emerge."
Recently, actor and first-time pet parent Charles Melton teamed up with Purina ONE to experience the bond for himself. With this partnership he hopes to inspire and encourage others to adopt shelter pets. Purina ONE has been committed to supporting animal shelters for over 15 years. Since 2015, the company has donated nearly 6.5 million pounds of dog and cat food, worth over $10 million, to help 49 shelter partners across the country.
Melton shares his life-changing pet adoption journey, beginning with the first time he saw his new husky pup, Neya.
"The moment I saw Neya, it was love at first sight and I couldn't resist taking her home," said Melton. "Shelters are full of pets who have been lost or abandoned, and I'm delighted to help raise awareness of pets, like Neya, who had lived in three different homes with several different owners before finding her forever home with me at 12 weeks old."
As a lifelong dog lover but first-time pet parent, Melton experienced firsthand the rewarding impact and special bond that happens when you bring a shelter pet into your home. They have built an unbreakable bond during road trips, camping trips and at-home quality time together.
“It's important that your adopted pet feels safe, supported and loved during their acclimation period, which Charles has clearly done with his new pup Neya," observed Dr. Lyn.
What can you do to help your new four-legged family member feel at home? Here are a few tips:
- Create pet-friendly spaces in your home. If you haven’t had a pet before, talk to the experts at your local shelter about what your pet may need. Items may include a special bed or blanket. It's also a good idea to put potential breakables, chewables or valuables away — especially if you’re bringing home a kitten or puppy. Pet-proof your house just as you would child-proof ahead of a new baby, and designate a couple of spots just for them.
- Supply fresh water and appropriate food. Cats and dogs need regular access to fresh, clean water. Stock up on age-appropriate pet food such as veterinarian-recommended Purina ONE, which helps support your pet’s whole-body health with formulas that address their changing needs at each life stage. Ask your vet about the right amount of food for your pet's age and size.
- Set up regular vet appointments. Dogs and cats need to have regular wellness exams, as they are unable to tell you what’s ailing them. They also need to be vaccinated against common diseases, like rabies.
- Have fun! Experiment to find out what kinds of toys your new pet enjoys, and have fun playing with them while giving your new family member — and you — plenty of exercise.
Once you bring your new pet home, there's no greater joy and responsibility than establishing a close, loving bond with your pet — which is one of the essential components to building a healthy and happy life for your new best friend.
To learn more about Melton and Neya, or to find a shelter near you, visit PurinaONE.com/shelterpets.