Adopting a Dog
So you’ve done some soul searching and decided you definitely want a dog. You know the size and type of dog that best fits your lifestyle and you’ve even dog proofed your home. You have a leash, a collar, a bed, crate, food bowls, toys; all that’s missing is the actual dog itself. Now what? Where can you adopt a dog?
The Internet is usually a good place to start shopping around for different adoption organizations. There are several different types of rescue groups out there, from state-funded organizations to non-profit rescues to breed-specific organizations. Some of these groups are based solely online and operate via a foster care network, while others have an actual brick and mortar location.
Online Animal Rescue Groups
The online animal rescue groups can span from state to state depending on the size of the organization and foster network. Often there is no centralized location but rather a network of people who house dogs until they’re placed. The good thing about these kinds of groups is that they have information about what the dog is like in a home environment. If you’re wondering about things like separation anxiety, crate training, or what kind of reaction you’ll get when someone rings the doorbell, then this might be the type of animal rescue group for you.
Keep in mind, however, that you’re also relying on these (not always trained) individuals for an unbiased description of how your potential new adopted dog behaves. Be careful of enthusiasts who will try to sell you on a dog’s “quirks” versus telling you outright of behavior problems. Most importantly, don’t ever let someone guilt you into “saving” a dog that’s not a good fit for you. Depending on how far away the foster family is, you may not have the ability to meet the dog in person first— a highly recommended step in the adoption process. The cleanliness of a facility or home is a huge indicator of the care the dog has been receiving. Additionally, if you have to transport the dog it can be a costly endeavor.
Brick and mortar shelters are a great place to look if you want some additional assistance and options when adopting a dog. Adoption counselors on-site are trained to help match dogs with their ideal owners. Often they will tell people outright that the dog they want is not a good fit for them. It can be a hard pill to swallow, but you have to believe they have both your best interest and the interest of the dog at heart.
One of the hardest things to see as a shelter agent is an adoption that ends with the dog coming back. They’re also pretty knowledgeable about things like training tips and problem behaviors. So even if you’re just thinking about adopting a dog, popping into a shelter to get some general information is a great way to prepare yourself for the reality of dog ownership.
Animals shelters will also usually require that the dog be spayed or neutered, and sometimes microchipped as well. Sometimes they’re able to provide information as to what the dog was like in a home environment, especially if the dog was surrendered by a previous owner.
Breed Specific Animal Rescues
Breed specific organizations are a great place to look if you have your heart set on adopting a specific type of dog. These organizations are usually composed of foster networks as well, but will be able to offer lots of information about the breed and breed-specific care. As with any animal rescue or shelter organization, asking where their dogs came from or if they have surrender criteria is a good way to weed out any potential behavior issues. Some animal rescues and shelters don’t accept dogs with behavior or medical issues because they don’t have the resources to properly council adopters and/or treat the dogs. However, some rescue groups will go to great lengths to save these dogs, and as a result may end up with problem pups that have nowhere else to go.
Your main concern when choosing a shelter or rescue group to work with is how reputable they are. If you have your heart set on adopting a purebred German Shepherd dog, for example, go down to your local shelter and ask if they recommend or work with any breed-specific rescue groups. As always, you can check online for reviews of certain shelters or rescue groups. At the very least you should be able to find out which ones to stay away from and adopt the dog of your dreams.