It is “Be Kind to Animals Week” May 5-11. 6.5 million companion animals enter shelters nationwide every year, and 1.5 million companion animals are euthanized annually. Lindsay Rubin of v-dog is a rescue animal advocate and a wealth of knowledge for prospective pet owners. Here she addresses some of the misconceptions people have about rescues.
- Why choose a shelter animal, don’t dogs from breeders need homes too?
Surprisingly, it’s estimated that 25% of the dogs in shelters are purebred and often originally from a breeder. The practice of breeding more dogs to meet the demand of people seeking purebreds, while hundreds of thousands of animals who need a loving home remain in shelters, has some tragic consequences. Pet adoption is always the more responsible choice. There are so many amazing dogs of all ages, shapes and sizes available through shelters and rescues.
- I have a lot of allergies and I really need a hypoallergenic breed. Is it possible to find a breed specific animal in a shelter?
Absolutely! Plenty of purebred animals end up in shelters for a number of reasons. If you are looking for a specific breed, sites like Petfinder.com or ShelterPetProject.org are great tools to locate available shelter animals in your area to match what you are looking for. There are also many breed specific rescue groups all over the country.
- How can I be sure that my shelter pet has a good temperament?
Like people, all animals have different personalities and experiences that make them the who they are. Certain personalities or traits are not specific to just shelter animals. The great thing about most shelters and rescues is that they will complete a behavior test for the animals that they intake and that assessment helps match them with the right home. The behavior test will also help their prospective family understand areas they may need to develop a little bit more through training. Fostering a pet also wonderful since it allows the animal to get out of the (sometimes high-stress) shelter where they can relax and allow their personality to really bloom.
- What can I expect when I bring my new pet home?
Pets are often moved around a lot and see many faces while in the care of a shelter. This can stress some animals out when all they want is a safe space to call home with someone they trust. Some pets will adjust right away, while some animals may need a bit more time to fully adjust to their new home. To help your new family member adjust, it’s important to provide lots of love and attention, but also offer a safe space (like a big cozy bed or an open crate/doggy house) to be alone if they need it. Always be patient with them as they build trust and confidence in their new surroundings. Yummy, healthy treats are always a great idea, too!
- I already have a pet at home, how do I know if my pet will get along with a new pet?
If you are a cat parent and you are thinking about rescuing a new dog, many shelters will do a reaction test to determine if the dog is a good fit for a home with feline friends. Some shelter dogs do great with kitty roommates, while others may be better suited with fellow dog friends, or even as an only dog. If you have other dogs, shelters often encourage you to bring them in to meet their new family member before you take your new friend home. Make sure to talk with the shelter/rescue about the current companion animals in your home and they will help you find the right fit and make suggestions on the process of bringing your new pet home.