Is Adopting Animal Shelter Dogs For You?

Adopting animal shelter dogs is one of the best decision you can make for your local dog community. Not only are you directly addressing dogs abandonment in a positive way, you are also indirectly discouraging shady businesses like puppy mills and many off-the-shelf sale of puppies in malls and pet shops with questionable origins. 

That being said, as with most things in life, adopting animal shelter dogs might not be for everyone. Here are 5 pros and 2 cons you should consider before embarking this journey.

5 pros of animal shelter dogs adoption

  • Save 2 lives with 1 adoption

There are always more abandoned and strays than shelters can house. This led to about 185 dogs being put to sleep in U.S. alone, daily.

While "no kill" shelters work on the principal of taking in as many animals as they could without the "put to sleep" part which sounds great in theory, the truth however is that these shelters are far and few between. Also is the fact that these facilities are often max out in capacity which mean they have to reject newly abandon dogs along with their chances of having a second shot at life.  

Adopting animal shelter dogs not only save the immediate life of your new family addition, it also free up a space in the shelter so that another dog will have the same chance your new dog had. Saving 2 lives with 1 adoption indeed.

  • Cheaper upfront 

One of the most attractive advantage of adopting animal shelter dogs is great value.

If you fancy a particular breed, adopting from a purebred rescue group is your best bet although it will cost significantly more compare to the regular (municipal) shelter. That said, it is still only a fraction of the cost compared to acquiring from professional breeders.  

For the initial adoption fee, your new dog would have been given a physical examination, screened for worms, spayed or neutered and up to date vaccination. All these and more at a steep discount. 

The extra savings can then be use where it counts; paying for the continued expenses of your new dog after she becomes part of your family, e.g., food, grooming supplies, veterinary care, toys and more. 

  • Spoiled for choice

Animal shelter dogs come in all shapes, sizes, breed and background. It is important to know not all dogs found in a shelter comes from problematic background like aggression or excessive barking.

You might find a litter of puppies because the previous owner doesn't know what to do with them due to unplanned pregnancy of his/her dog. Divorces, a new baby in the family or house moving are some of the other top reasons why owners gave up their otherwise perfectly fine dogs which are often well-socialized and house-trained. 

You might also find various competition winning dogs which were given up because of their age. While certainly a sad reality, it doesn't deter the fact that these are quality dogs and there are merits in adopting a mature dog.

Purebreds on the other hand are rare in a regular shelter and if they do, they are usually quick to be adopted. If you fancy a particular breed, chances are there is just the right breed specific shelter for you. A simple google should bring up what you need nearest around you.

Finally, do ask the staffs all the questions  you need before the adoption. A well-run shelter will have passionate staffs eager to provide you with as much background information on their dogs as possible as well as their observations and interactions with your prospect so far.

  • Merits of adopting an adult dog

Puppy caring is equal part rewarding and demanding. There are certainly more people who would like to own a dog but hasn't because they are either turn off by the amount of work needed upon further research or underestimating the amount of work and resources needed without enough research, leading to eventual abandonment. The latter being one of the main reason for dogs abandonment.  

Adopting mature animal shelter dogs allow prospective owners like yourself to bypass the adorable but taxing "puppy phrase" of chewing, barking, uncontrollable potty urges and the boundless energy of youth. Many adult dogs found in shelters are well-socialize and house-trained. Some are even capable of more advance tricks! Again, consult the shelter staffs and they will give you as much information as they can. Committed shelters strive to match the best choice of owners and dogs to ensure the highest chance of  adoption success.

Now, purchasing puppy from a legitimate breeder is still often the way to go because you essentially start off with a clean slate of health, conduct and knowledge of origin about your new puppy. But like most things, it isn't a one size fits all option. If you have always wanted a dog but don't have the commitment necessary for the early stages of puppy hood, then adopting an adult shelter dog might just be the right alternative for you. 

  • 2 noble causes for 1 adoption

Shelters are non-profit organizations. They rely heavily on donations and adoption fees to run their facilities.  So when we adopt animal shelter dogs, we are directly supporting a good cause where it matters.

Between the tight manpower, heavy workload and the high cost of upkeep, managing shelters have always been an uphill battle and shelters need all the help they can get to fulfill their role in the fight against pets abandonment.

Not only that. Adopting animal shelter dogs is also the right direction in putting puppy mills out of business by not giving them money! Puppy mills are unscrupulous organizations that only cares about their bottom line at the expense of the well-being of their dogs and puppies. As a result, most puppies produced from these mills tend to have lasting behavior and health issues. In fact many of these puppies aren't even recommendable for an adoption even if they are free. 

While most people do not support puppy mills by principal, these organizations prey and sell their puppies to the unsuspecting and the impulsive through pet-stores, internet and local newspaper advertisements. Prospect buyers will be subjected to premium prices and get short-changed with inferior puppies while more continued to be bred elsewhere and likely be abandoned in time.

This cultivates a vicious cycle with only the puppy mill owners coming out on top.

2 Cons of animal shelter dogs adoption

  • It can be emotionally draining

Prepare yourself emotionally before your visit to the shelter. You may end up feeling like picking one dog over the close few you filter out seems like letting the "other dogs down" or even cruel considering their eventual fate. Don't be. Just know that choosing the right dog and being the ambassador of a successful adoption will do more good for those dogs in the shelters.

Besides, it will feel even worst to have to return any of your adoption due to incompatibility that comes from impulsive adoption.

If you are going with your family especially with kids, draft out the type of dog everyone agrees with. Example; age range, size, kids friendly, etc. Having a basic criteria allows everyone to stay focus in the search for the right dog and not give in to decisions rule by temptation.

  • Not all adoption work out

Truth is, not all animal shelter dogs adoptions will work out. Between 7% to 20% of adopted dogs were returned within 6 months. Below are the main reasons why:

  • Underestimate cost of upkeep
  • Hidden health aliments
  • Health related reaction to pets
  • Disobedience
  • Aggression
  • Excessive barking
  • Hyperactive

Even without the costly upfront, it is important to understand adopting a shelter dog still require an ongoing investment of time and money. Finding the right match require at least a few trips to the shelter be it for narrowing down your choices, observing, asking questions or putting down a wait list.

Never rush to adopt.

That said, despite your best effort, sometime unforeseen circumstances compels you to return your adoption.  Allergy reaction by a family member or hidden health aliments of your new dog are some of the common ones. Some dogs also experience behavioral changes for the worst after adoption like signs of aggression or excessive barking that were never displayed in their time at the shelter. Professional trainers can help at the expense of additional cost.

The takeaway is if you have given the dog an honest try, there is no need to feel guilty or shame in returning. A responsible shelter will gladly take her back. If the reason is not health related to you or your family in having a dog, it is worth trying again. Finding your 'soulmate' dog will make all your efforts worthwhile! 

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