You Can’t Buy Love, But You Can Adopt


Photo courtesy: Morgan Meadows

They say you never work a day in your life if you are doing what you love. That’s how I felt this semester while working on my senior project, a short documentary video series called “Rescue Matters”, which highlights the work of animal shelters in the greater Lake Tahoe area.

During their last semester here at Sierra Nevada College, interdisciplinary studies students such as myself chose a self-guided final project that is important to us on a personal level and combines our academic pursuits. As a digital arts and journalism student, I wanted to put my storytelling and visual skills to the test by documenting a subject that has become an important part of my college journey and my personal life.

The idea for my senior project began last year. During my service learning project, a semester-long course where INTD students volunteer with local non-profits in order to give back to the community, I chose to dedicate my hours to the Pet Network Humane Society located here in Incline Village.

Having always been a dog lover, I knew that helping these animals was the right choice for me. Despite the reward of simply volunteering my time, I found that I benefitted a lot personally from my experience. Working with dogs is a great stress relief for a busy college student. Seeing these animals bring joy to people’s lives was inspiring.

In my time there, I also discovered that humane societies and animal shelters often struggle to grow their online presence, lacking the time or the skills to develop digital content for social media. Having a background in this area, I knew that I could help.

The goal of “Rescue Matters” was to research the bond between people and their canines to find out why animal rescue organizations like the Pet Network actually matter. I then created a digital product that they can use to help further their mission and get homeless animals adopted.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, more than 3.2 million dogs come into animal shelters across the country every year. Of those, 670,000 are euthanized for space, health, or behavioral issues.

Though shelters are doing an increasingly better job of connecting stray dogs with their owners or getting them adopted, there still are animals who don’t have a home. These shelter dogs can’t be placed if the people who love them aren’t educated about the importance of adoption.

Domesticated dogs as we know them today are not designed to exist without people. They rely on us for their basic needs like food, water and shelter, but that’s not all. Dogs are social creatures. They thrive in packs, like human families. They experience an emotional connection with their people. And in return, they better our lives. According to the Center for Disease Control, just owning a dog can lead to deceased stress and anxiety as well as increased levels of happiness.

Animal shelters see the lives of dogs and people transform when they are brought together. Shy dogs come out of their shells and lonely humans gain an instant best friend. Dogs can help people with chronic illnesses or mental health disorders. People can help dogs lead a healthy and happy life. The bond between humans and canines runs deep, touching all aspects, and greatly benefits both.

More than 70 percent of Americans own a companion animal. By advocating for adoption over commercial breeding, we can find a loving family for every shelter pet.

So what can you do to help?

Photo courtesy: Morgan Meadows
Senior Morgan Meadows putting her digital media and storytelling practices to use at a local animal shelter.

The best thing you can do for a shelter dog is to bring them home. However, if there’s something prohibiting you from adopting, not to worry. There are still things you can do

For starters, animal rescue organizations everywhere can never have too many volunteers. Some of the dogs the otherwise adoptable dogs that come into shelters are a bit fearful of humans and need more socialization than busy staff can provide them. Coming in and just sitting with or walking a dog can be immensely helpful.

If you’re open to a bigger commitment, you can foster adoptable dogs in your home until they find a family of their own.

You can also help by spreading the word. Educate your friends and family about adoption. Help promote your local organization on social media. Donate pet supplies. Take visit to your local animal shelter and find out what they need. While you’re there, be sure to hang out with an awesome shelter dog.

Learn more by contacting one of our local animal rescue organizations:

The Pet Network Humane Society, Washoe County Regional Animal Services, Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe or Placer County Animal Services.

Morgan Meadows is a Sierra Nevada College Senior