Yes! “Reduce, reuse, recycle,” the mantra of the environmental movement, applies to our behavior toward companion animals as well.
Reduce: Spay or neuter your pet. Resist the urge to become a “backyard breeder,” even if your pet is a pure-bred dog. Millions (literally!) of healthy, adoptable animals are euthanized every year simply because homes cannot be found for them. If you don’t spay or neuter, you are contributing to the problem. Low-cost spay and neuter clinics are offered in most communities. In the High Desert, the Bend Spay & Neuter Project offers low-cost procedures for dogs and cats, including stray cats.
Reuse: Consider adopting a shelter animal or pet whose owner is selling or surrendering him. In this era of foreclosures, many families are desperate to find homes for pets they can no longer keep. In the High Desert, adoptable animals are offered by Bend Spay & Neuter Project, Humane Society of Central Oregon, Humane Society of Redmond, Humane Society of the Ochocos, Blissful Acres Rescue Reserve, and Equine Outreach, among others. If you have your heart set on a pure-bred, search the sites above, go to and specify the breed and your location, or contact the nearest rescue group for that breed (Google breed name rescue and your state). If, like me, you’re a golden retriever fancier, that would be Golden Bond Rescue of Oregon.
Recycle: Animals as well as things can be adapted to a new use. If you’re willing to invest some effort at socialization and training, feral animals can become good pets. (My adorable Lace was a feral cat we found in our pasture 18 months ago who now is healthy and glossy and living happily in a household with two dogs.) Wild horses culled from remote areas in the West are adoptable through the Bureau of Land Management. They can make fantastic mounts, but gentling a 1,000-pound wild animal is not for amateurs. If you aren’t an experienced trainer, contact a trainer who specializes in mustangs. In the High Desert region, I can recommend Kitty and Rick Lauman.