Saturday, July 11, 2009

Adopting a Dog from an Animal Shelter

By Ruthie Bently

I am asked a lot about what kind of dog someone should get. My answer is “the dog you get should be the right one for you.” Did you know that animal shelters are a great place to find a dog? You can find a puppy or an adult dog, a pedigreed dog or a mutt. Not only that, you are saving a life.

Dogs end up in shelters for many reasons: their owners may have passed away, their owners may not be able to care for them anymore, or the dog may have simply gotten lost and not been reclaimed. Whatever the reason, your new friend could be waiting on the other side of the shelter door.

When you adopt a dog from a shelter, you are asked to abide by their rules. These can include taking the dog back to the shelter if you are unable to keep or care for the dog. Shelters will not adopt animals to minors, so children under 18 years of age need to have their parents come with them when looking for a new four-legged friend to adopt.

Every dog from a shelter comes with an adoption fee. This fee usually covers the spaying or neutering of the dog you choose, and can also cover vaccination fees and any other fees the dog may have incurred while at the shelter. In some shelters, the adoption fee is based on the size of the dog.

Many shelters also do temperament tests on the dogs they have in their care. This can include taking food, toys or bedding away from the dog. They may also be tested to see how well they get along with other dogs. After my AmStaff Katie passed on, I wanted to get another companion for Smokey Bear. I called the shelter to make sure it was OK to bring him in to meet the dog I was interested in adopting. They said it was, and we made an appointment. This is very important if you are looking for a second dog, or a companion for one that was used to living with another dog. You can find out if your dog will get along with your choice and also see how well they play together.

When Smokey Bear and I went to meet his tentative new friend, the shelter personnel took us into a room with a training ring and then went to get the dog we had come to see. Smokey and the little girl we met got along great; unfortunately she had been adopted during the time we spent on the road to get to the shelter. The shelter tried to convince us to take another dog home with us, but the one they chose was a ball of energy as it was still a puppy. Poor Smokey didn’t know what to do and came back over to me so I could “protect” him. Needless to say, I went home with just Smokey Bear that day, and he got to be an “only child” until the day he passed on.

I have adopted several dogs and cats from shelters in my lifetime. I even worked as a volunteer for a cageless shelter after I saved a pregnant cat, and ended up adopting my charge and her kittens, but that is another story for another time. I have heard it said that animals in the shelter are more loving than other animals. I have found it to be true, and have been blessed by each animal I have adopted. Maybe it’s because they know where they are; they are sentient creatures after all, they just can’t speak a human language.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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