Adopting is the Best Choice

Adopting is the Best Choice  by guest blogger, Mary Nielsen

With all the dogs in the world it can be difficult to choose just one. However, there is one choice that should be quite clear; where you go to get your new best friend. Some people might go to a pet store or answer an ad in a paper. Neither of those is very good unless the pet store in question is working hand in hand with the local animal shelter. You want to get a dog from a shelter for various reasons.  Here are just a few:

You don’t want to support puppy mills.

You just don’t. The puppy mills are all about profit rather than animal welfare. Dogs and puppies are almost continually locked in cages with minimal food and little to no comfort. This cruelty leads to sickly puppies and mother dogs in constant agony. Please don’t support animal abuse. Not only is adopting the humane choice, it’s less expensive. Another good reason to consider adoption rather than buying a purebred is that mixed-breed dogs tend to be more robust than purebreds. They have the best traits of every breed they’re related to!

Shelter dogs are safe and healthy.

Some people might be a bit wary about taking in a dog with an unknown background. That worry is groundless. Occasionally, an owner might relinquish a pet be re-homed due to moving, allergies or other unexpected lifestyle changes. No matter what reason the animal is in a shelter, it’s never their fault. All a dog wants to do is find a loving family to belong to. The first thing a shelter does with a dog that is brought to them is screen for health and behavior problems. If the dog has any, the shelter will do all they can to solve the problem so that the dog will be fit to be a loving companion. This may take the form of extra grooming, veterinary care or remedial training. A lot of work goes into making a dog adoptable.


So many dogs, so little time (and space) 

Shelters have plenty of puppies, and there’s more coming in every year. In just six years, one dog and her offspring could have 67,000 puppies if breeding goes unchecked. Some shelters are forced to euthanize dogs to make room for these puppies. Even no-kill shelters can only take in so many. Please make things easier on everyone by adopting.

Note from Sue Bulanda: Also consider adopting other pets from your local shelter. They often have a variety of animals and birds for adoption.

For more information, please consult this infographic.


Rescuing or Fostering a Dog From a Foreign Country

Most people would be surprised at how many dogs are imported from one state to another and put in shelters and foster care. These dogs come from areas of the United States that have too many dogs for the local shelter to handle. Some are rescued by breed specific groups. But what most people do not realize is that many dogs are imported from other countries. Most of those dogs are street dogs which present a different problem.

Dogs from other countries do not understand our language, are used to a different climate, water and food. Many had to scavenge for food and have never had a good diet. They are often aggressive to other dogs because they had to fight to survive. They may also be wary of humans.

Rehabilitating these dogs can be done but may take much more time. Genetics play an important part in how well these dogs can be rehabilitated since temperament is inherited. A dog that has a mild temperament and who is not inherently aggressive may respond well to rehabilitation. As a rule of thumb you cannot change the genes but you can change or alter the behavior.  This does not mean that a dog will forget what he has learned, but dogs are capable of learning to change how they react to given situations.

A good rule of thumb for rehabilitating foreign dogs is as follows:

  1. Give the dog time to adjust to the physical changes that he must face. This would include food, weather, water, where he is housed, general odors and language. Remember that scent is one of the key elements in a dog’s life. The scents of one place can be drastically different than another, even in the United States. This will mean that the dog has to learn a whole new point of reference. Even people smell different from one area to another. This is because the soil and plants that surround us have different odors and cling to our clothes and permeate our homes. Also the food we eat make up a part of a person’s general scent.
  2. Start easy basic training using a non-force method such as clicker training. No matter what language a dog has grown up hearing, all dogs understand human facial expressions and tone of voice. Take baby steps and use very short, (five minute) training sessions. Dogs need time to analyze and think of what is going on and relate to it.
  3. Give the dog space. Too much activity and people can make the dog withdraw.
  4. Do not house the dog with other dogs unless it is apparent that the dog is dog friendly. If the foster dog had to fight for its food and existence, he may not get along with other dogs.
  5. Do not be discouraged if the dog seems to backslide. We all do. Dogs have bad days just like humans. Give the dog a day off if he seems to be having a bad day and try again the next day.

With time and patience, a foster or adopted dog can adjust to a completely new environment, learn to trust humans and perhaps, enjoy the company of other dogs.

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