As many Canadians hope for a sunny May, many more lost, abandoned or abused animals hope to find a loving home.

This month the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) is teaming up with pet food producer Iams to raise awareness of pet adoption across Canada with the Iams Friends for Life campaign.

Steve Carroll, CEO of CFHS, says with more animals than ever in need of adoption, he hopes potential adopters will recognize both the value of companionship and the responsibilities inherent in adopting a pet.

“Friends for Life means that when we commit to bringing this loving being into our lives and they trust us, we have to return that trust for life,” Carroll said.

More than 121 shelters across Canada are participating in the program with walk-a-thons, pet parenting clinics and free pet care kits given to each new adoptee by Iams.

Contrary to the stereotypical belief that animals at shelters tend to be unruly or unclean, Carroll says shelters are safe zones that provide exceptional care for loving pets who just need a good home.

“I think there are a lot of people who think of the animal shelter in their community as a place of last resort and that’s just so far from the reality these days. These are not dumping grounds for animals — they are valuable community assets,” he said.

Carroll says 48 per cent of animal shelters report May as the busiest month of the year for new animal arrivals, making this month a crucial time for raising awareness about adoption.

For people thinking of bringing a furry little critter into their lives, Carroll hopes more people will consider adopting from a shelter because of the better animal care — and better price — a shelter offers.

Unlike at most pet stores or with a breeder, animals adopted from a shelter are already vaccinated, checked by a vet, spayed or neutered, temperament tested and even micro-chipped for identification purposes should they get lost in the future.

Given that the total costs for such services as well as the price of the animal can frequently run up to $1,000 at a retail outlet, the $350-$450 dollars a shelter charges for a similar, fully treated animal lets would-be owners get a well-loved animal for a fraction of the cost.

Most importantly, unlike some fly-by-night puppy mills, a shelter isn’t going to disappear overnight.

“The care and consideration that is provided to these animals at a shelter is second to none and if there’s a problem with the animal, you’ll know where to go,” Carroll said.

“A loving animal in your life is a great way to stay connected to your heart. It reminds us every day that we have to care, we have to love,” Carroll said.

For more information, go to cfhs.ca or iamsfriendsforlifemonth.ca

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