Dogs are waiting to be adopted by those looking for a four-legged friend at animal shelters across the country.
October is National Adopt A Shelter Dog Month, and shelters are actively trying to find homes for dogs that have been given up or abandoned.
Caring Hands Humane Society Fundraising Coordinator Randy Stephenson said the adoption application even allows people to specify what breed of dog they would like to bring into their family.
Adopting a dog from a shelter instead of buying a dog from a breeder or another source online has several benefits.
"You're really saving a life," Stephenson said.
When a dog has spent time at a shelter, they are thoroughly examined to determine its state of health, given vaccinations, spayed or neutered if old enough and treated with special medical care if needed.
"You should be confident that not only is the dog taken care of, but the qualified individuals who have looked at the dog will tell you about their characteristics, if they're good with other dogs or cats," Stephenson said.
When finding a dog from an online source, well-meaning pet owners may be getting more than they bargained for.
"They don't really know the history of the dog," Stephenson said. "They don't know if it's from a puppy mill and not given the love and care a dog should get."
Even reputable dog sellers can be misled and unintentionally sell puppies with serious issues.
"People pay thousands of dollars for a dog that they end up having problems with," Stephenson said.
Not only will shelter staff make sure the dog's medical needs are met, they care for its social skills
"We work with these animals to get them socialized to where they can fit in with a family," Stephenson said.
Stephenson said that adoption fees at Caring Hands Humane Society average $115, and he has seen animals worth thousands of dollars adopted out for much less.
"That barely covers our initial vaccinations and spaying or neutering," Stephenson said.
The dogs that come through Caring Hands Humane Society don't always stay in Newton, as shelters and dog adopters often advertise nationwide to find just the right match of pet and person.
"We have some dogs that have come through here that have gone on to be utilized in the film industry or be agility-trained dogs," Stephenson said. "We have one dog that went out of state because we contacted Cesar Milan and he put her up on his Facebook page."
Stephenson adopted Bruno, an American Bulldog, to be a companion for his dog Karma, who is also an American Bulldog.
"We rescued (Karma) from a situation where she was thrown in with twelve other dogs for breeding," Stephenson said. "The poor thing was afraid and lonely."
Although she was introduced to several other dogs at Caring Hands, it wasn't until Karma met Bruno that she acted ready to accept a second dog around her owner.
"When they met each other, it was like they were family from way back," Stephenson said. "They started playing together. It's been really a good mix, the two of them have gotten along just famously."
Bruno's easygoing temperament and friendliness towards strangers landed him the opportunity to be the spokesdog for this year's Ride For The Dogs, the biggest fundraising event of the year for Caring Hands Humane Society. His picture was placed on posters and he even got to participate in radio interviews in Wichita.
"Bruno just loves people," Stephenson said. "He's never met anybody that he's been the least bit leery of. I guess we spoil him a little bit."
Dogs aren't the only animal available for adoption at the shelter. Stephenson said he has seen pigs, goats, snakes, rabbits and chickens come through the facility.
"We presently have 120 cats, 40 dogs and 2 rabbits," Stephenson said.
For more information about adopting a dog, contact Caring Hands Humane Society at 316-283-0839 or visit http://www.caringhandshs.org.