Each year, an estimated 6.3 million pets enter shelters nationwide. To raise awareness for those millions of animals, National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day was established in the 1980s. Each year, on April 30th, we observe this holiday to celebrate and find new homes for the deserving animals in America’s shelters.

Pets find themselves in shelters for any number of reasons. Whether it’s the result of abandonment, abuse, an unwanted litter, or even an owner’s inability to provide care, the majority of these animals will have the good fortune of finding a new family through shelter adoption. In fact, of the 6.3 million animals that enter shelters across the US every year, approximately 4.1 million will be adopted, and 810,00 that entered as strays will be reunited with their owners.

So how can you celebrate this year’s National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day? First and foremost, consider adopting a new best friend! For those of you that aren’t in the market for a furry family member, consider other ways that you might help shelter animals this holiday. For instance, you could donate new toys or food to your local shelter. You could also consider making a donation to cover the cost of an animal’s adoption fee. Donating your time is another way that you can impact animals in search of their forever family. For details on how you can volunteer at Larimer Humane Society, click here.

If you already have a shelter pet (or two, or three…) here are other ways you can celebrate:

  1. Treat your fur children. New toys are a great way to engage your pet and encourage an active lifestyle. Of course, the way to their heart may very well be through their stomachs.
  2. Pamper your pet. A day at the groomer is a treat for both person and dog. Your pet gets pampered, and you get to enjoy the squeaky clean afterglow.
  3. Organize a fun photoshoot. Show the world how pet adoption has completed and enriched your life with a family photoshoot. Be sure to share the pictures with the shelter or adoption agency you went through. Updates are always encouraged!

A day spent with your shelter pet is a day well spent. So be sure to take the time to acknowledge them, and to remember that they – like so many millions of others – were once in a shelter, just waiting for you to find them and bring them home.