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Adopting Pets with Dr. Andrew Kaplan

The Martha Stewart Show, December 2009

If you and your family have decided to adopt a pet, why not bring one home for the holidays? Just remember -- never surprise someone with a dog or cat under the Christmas tree; veterinarian Dr. Andrew Kaplan of City Veterinary Care emphasizes that people adopting pets must be prepared for the commitment of properly caring for an animal

A staggering number of dogs and cats -- 6 to 8 million -- enter U.S shelters every year. Animals end up at shelters for a variety of reasons. When the economy is not good, many people simple cannot afford to take care of their pets. Disasters such as Katrina bring even more dogs and cats into the shelter system. Sometimes elderly people get to a point when they can no longer manage the care of their pets. And believe it or not, when the holidays and summer vacation roll around each year, people travel and abandon their animals. In some areas, dogs and cats are left to breed uncontrollably and are picked up by rescue organizations.

When searching for an animal shelter, make sure the shelter does not fortify its population by taking in or buying puppies and kittens from puppy mills or other shelters that do the same. The issue is not that these animals don't need homes, but that supporting these shelters helps perpetuate the puppy-mill business. Shelters should also perform temperament testing so that you know if an animal is likely to be friendly, and be sure to affirm that the dog or cat you would like to adopt is healthy.

Pets Seen on the Show

  • Animal: Kiara, age 1 year
    Breed: Border Collie Mix
    For more information: adoptapet.com or cominghomerescue.org
  • Animal: Willie, age 2 years
    Breed: Golden Retriever
    For more information: grrinj.org
  • Animals: Princess and Kiki, age 9 years
    Breed: Shih Tzus
    For more information: strayfromtheheart.org
  • Animal: Steven, age 4 years
    Breed: Tibetan Terrier
    For more information: nycacc.org
  • Animal: Rosaline, age 4 months
    Breed: Tortoise Shell Kitten
    For more information: nycacc.org

The Toby Project
Founded by Dr. Andrew Kaplan, The Toby Project works to end the killing of thousands of adoptable dogs and cats in New York City's animal shelters. Named after Dr. Kaplan's dog Toby, a wolfhound mix who was ready to be euthanized before Dr. Kaplan rescued him, The Toby Project works to fund the operation of mobile surgical vans equipped to spay and neuter dogs and cats in the areas of New York City that need it most.

This initiative is particularly important because we will never decrease the population of unwanted pets unless people spay and neuter their dogs and cats. Since February 24, 2009, when The Toby Project's mobile surgical van began operating, about 2,000 animals have been spayed or neutered by the organization. If those dogs and cats had been left to breed and multiply unchecked, in six years there would be more than 128 million offspring.

The Toby Project currently has one mobile surgical van operational, and is aiming to establish four more, one for each borough of New York City. For more information, visit tobyproject.org.