What is Law of the Paw?

It’s a code of honor. It’s a movement for animals. It’s a way to save millions of lives each year.

Everyone has what it takes to live by the Law of the Paw. When you commit to live by the Law of the Paw you’re not only helping your pet—you’re helping thousands of other animals by reducing homelessness and saving lives.

Do these three simple things for your animal, and you’ll help create a better world for all animals. And you and your pet will sleep better knowing the good deed you have done.

  • Adopt from a shelter or rescue.
  • Spay or neuter your pet.
  • ID your pet with a collar tag.

Here’s a surprising fact: Only 10%-20% of American family pets come from rescues or shelters. (Source: Ralston Purina and NCPPSP)

This leaves far too many dogs and cats behind. Every year, millions of animals are euthanized simply because there’s nobody stepping up to adopt them.

We can do way better than that, right?

There are tons of reasons to adopt from a shelter or rescue, for example:

  1. You’ll save a life. How great is that?
  2. You’ll save money. Adoption fees are a fraction of what you’d pay to purchase a pet from a breeder. Plus, most animals adopted from a shelter or rescue are already spayed/neutered and up to date on their shots—a significant savings in vet fees.
  3. About 25% of dogs in shelters are purebreds. So chances are, you can save a life by adopting and still find the breed you’re looking for.
  4. And if a purebred dog isn’t important to you, then you’ll really hit the jackpot at your local shelter. Mixed-breed dogs make wonderful pets, and they’re usually healthier than purebreds.

What’s the best way to reduce euthanasia in America’s shelters? Cut down on unwanted litters by spaying or neutering your pet.

By nature, dogs and cats are bountiful breeders. Dogs can have their first litter at six months—cats at four months. That’s just the beginning. After that, dogs can produce a litter every six months. Cats continue to go in and out of heat from March until May.

Imagine one pair of animals breeding together, and then all of their offspring having litters of their own. (Get out your calculator!)

Just one dog and its descendants can pop out more than 67,000 puppies in six years! Cats can have even more. One pair of cats can lead to 11 million homeless cats in just nine years.

That’s out of control. And we humans are the only ones that can break the cycle by making sure every pet we have undergoes a simple, routine surgery.

The downside of spay/neuter? Nothing. Male animals are no less “manly,” and female animals won’t miss being a mama. Really. Pets don’t think about sex and babies the way we do.

In fact, spaying and neutering often results in a healthier, happier, better behaved pet. He’ll be less likely to roam and mark his territory. And she’ll be more comfortable not being stressed out by going into heat.

Best of all, if everyone spayed or neutered their pet, we could save the lives of 4 million animals every year—dogs and cats who would otherwise be euthanized in overcrowded shelters.

That’s a big victory for such a little snip.

Venture into your local shelter and read the kennel cards. How many dogs and cats were picked up as strays? Usually it’s about half. In some states, strays can account for as many as 75% of the animals in shelters.

A “stray” is someone’s pet that can’t be returned home, because there’s no way for the shelter to know who it belongs to. Swept up into the shelter system through no fault of their own, these dogs and cats may be adopted to other families-*or they may become some of the millions of animals euthanized by overcrowded shelters.*

So here’s a thought. If every dog and cat wore an ID tag with the owner’s current contact information, we could cut the number of animals in shelters by half.

HALF. That’s huge!

But even more importantly, ID tagging helps keep your furry family members safe. Only 10% of lost dogs return home on their own. For stray cats in shelters, the chances of being reunited with their family are a bleak 2%.

And yes, cats need to wear ID tags, too, even cats that “never” go outside. Research shows that 41% of lost cats were indoor only pets. But accidents happen. You can’t predict when a cat might shoot out the door, so always be ready for the worst.

Microchipping? That’s a great backup plan. Even if your dog or cat loses its collar, with your current contact information registered with the microchip company, it can be returned home quickly.

But since most neighbors and Good Samaritans aren’t walking around with a microchip scanner, your pets should still wear ID tags so they can be returned home without setting paw inside a vet’s office or shelter.

Law of the Paw began with the spark of an idea at Animal Humane Society (AHS) in Minnesota.

Through five locations in the Twin Cities area, AHS helps nearly 30,000 companion animals every year—a staggering number of unwanted pets that puts AHS right in the center of society’s problem with animal homelessness.

Though its save rate is among the highest in the nation for an open-admission shelter, AHS recognized that shelters alone can’t end pet overpopulation and its horrible consequence, euthanasia. It takes a partnership with the community.

More than that, it takes a personal commitment from every pet owner to do three simple things: *adopt *from a shelter or rescue, spay/neuter your pet, and make sure your pet always wears ID.

The Law of the Paw calls on the honor of pet owners everywhere. We’re working to collect the signatures of 1 million people who promise to do right by their pet.

It’s an idea that’s bigger than one organization. That’s why Law of the Paw is designed to be co-opted and supported by other shelter organizations and rescue groups. You can create a page for yourself or your organization to help spread the word and start a movement.

Together, we’ll create a better world for all animals.


You've earned the PROMISE BADGE

I PROMISE to live by the Law of the Paw—to adopt, to spay or neuter, and to ID tag my pets.

Why do we need this?
Although we want everyone to live the Law of the Paw, online participants need to be 13 years of age or older at this time. If you create a profile, this information will be automatically hidden unless you elect to show it, and its use is governed by the Law of the Paw Terms of Use.
We’re sorry but children under the age of 13 need a parent or legal guardian to help them sign the Law of the Paw.
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