Adopt A Shelter Dog Month
- Thursday, 20 October 2011
With the economic changes of the past few years and an unwelcomed slew of natural disasters, there is widespread overpopulation of healthy, adoptable pets in animal shelters across the United States. Throughout the month of October, the American Humane Association is spotlighting shelter dogs looking for permanent homes, and encouraging the important and rewarding benefits that adopting a shelter dog can provide.
People bring pets into their lives for many reasons, like companionship, exercise, or to add a member of the family. But before you do, take time to ensure that owning a pet is compatible with your lifestyle, living situation, and personality. Bringing a pet into your life will add tremendous benefits of caring, but it is important to acknowledge that pets also require time, patience, and money.
Choosing a Shelter Dog
When you decide that you or your family has the time and resources ready to devote to a pet, consider adopting from a shelter instead of buying from a breeder or a pet store. Aside from the fact that adoption from a shelter can save a pet from being euthanized, there are many other benefits:
Most pets adopted from shelters have already been spayed or neutered, fully vaccinated, and have had basic medical care. This saves significantly on the initial investment in veterinary care.
Adopting a shelter dog is extremely economical and many shelters require only a $35 - $55 adoption fee.
Behavior and Training
The majority of shelter pets have already outgrown their “puppy stage”. Puppies are often much more work than families are prepared to handle. An older pet is most likely already house-trained, and has basic knowledge of behavioral expectations.
Shelters can often share information on why the dog was brought to the shelter, so that you know of any potential temperament or behavioral issues that may need extra attention.
Shelters offer a wide selection of breeds and often do have common purebreds. But do consider the benefits of a mixed-breed dog. Purebred dogs come from long bloodlines of very ingrained behavioral traits. Depending on what the dog was bred to do, barking, digging, heel biting, or aggressive behaviors, for example, are often difficult to train out of a purebred. When breeds are mixed, these behaviors can become much more subtle.
If you are considering a purebred or “designer dog”, be aware that not all breeders follow ethical practices. If you do adopt from a breeder, be sure to contact a breed club in your area for referrals.
Also be cautious of purebred or designer dogs available at pet stores. There is a risk of supporting “Puppy Mills”, which do not consider the health and welfare of the dogs they are producing.
Are You Ready?
Before deciding to adopt or purchase a dog, be sure that you and your family are ready for the responsibility of owning a pet. The idea of owning a pet is attractive because of the endless benefits of companionship, but it is also important to be realistic about the day-to-day care, training, and responsibility of caring for a pet. If you have children, expect that it may take some time for them to understand that owning a pet requires everyone’s participation and help. Be prepared to handle the majority of the responsibility until your children form the habits of responsible pet ownership.
Your local shelter is the perfect place to find dogs of every type, size, age and personality -- all waiting for a loving home. By adopting, you give a dog a second chance at living in a caring and nurturing home and being loved in the way that they deserve.