Finding Friends: Adopting Shelter Animals


Having a pet is a wonderful addition to many homes.They can add a warmth and joy that is rivaled by little else.Choosing the pet can be a challenge and, for some, an enormous expense.

Often times we have an ideal pet in mind.This may require some research and ultimately buying a pure bred animal of our choosing from a reputable breeder.Of course, there is nothing wrong with that, but before you spend any money you may want to explore other possibilities.

You likely have an animal shelter near you bursting at the seams with animals that are looking for good homes.Most communities have several such facilities and they are almost always at capacity.You may not find exactly what you had in mind, but you may be surprised at the number of options.One study I found indicated that purebred dogs make up 25% of all dogs in shelters.Our last shelter dog, Grace, is a purebred greyhound.

In order to get what you want in your next pet you may have to make many visits to the shelter over a period of time.You may even consider volunteering as a means to get to see and spend more time with the animals.Most shelters have volunteer programs which allow people to feed, walk, and socialize the animals.

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Adopting Shelter Animals

Things to consider:

Many of the animals in the shelter have already been immunized.  At some shelters they also get spayed or neutered or the shelter has worked out some sort of arrangement with a local veterinarian to offer the services at a much discounted rate.

Be sure to ask staffers about the animal.  They won’t likely know everything, but can tell you how the dog behaves and under what circumstances it ended up at the shelter.

You can purchase bedding from a yard sale or thrift store for very little.  Depending on the size of your new family member a cast off comforter could be useful if cut into smaller segments and sewn together on the cut sides.

Find several shelters in your area if available.  Visit them online and then visit them in person.

When you visit, take your money.  If you decide on a pet right away, you will have the option to take it home.  Chances are if you loved it, someone else will, too.

Don’t impulse adopt.  There are many great pet choices in shelters.  Be sure of what you want.

The advantage of adopting an adult dog is that you already know how big it will be and its disposition is mostly set.  What you won’t know is its history and habits.

New diets often wreak havoc on the digestive system of dogs.  To make the transition easier try adding boiled potatoes or rice for the first week or two.

If your new dog has an accident in the house do not assume it isn’t housebroken.  The first few weeks are an adjustment.  Reward/praise your pet for relieving himself outside and tell him firmly “no” when he does it inside.  The key is to catch him in the act.  Shouting after the fact will have no positive effect.  Also, never hit your dog if they have an accident.  Punishment is not the way to a well-behaved pet.

Be patient.  You must be aware that the transition period applies to both you and your pet.  Don’t be disappointed or frustrated if they don’t respond to the new name you just decided upon.

Consistency is key.  Do not send mixed messages.  Do not expect your new dog to refrain from begging at the table if you sometimes feed them from the table.

To buy before bringing home a new shelter pet:

  • Food
  • Food and water dish
  • Leash
  • Bedding
  • Collar
  • ID tag