Shelters and rescues have all kinds of dogs, of all ages, available to join your family. Starting with an adult dog is exactly right for many families, but is especially useful for families with young children. A dog that is mature is less likely to treat the child as a sibling. That means less nipping, and usually less bumping, jumping up and other very physical behavior. If your work situation is such that you would have to leave a puppy home alone for eight hours or more you will gain nothing by starting with a puppy. An adult dog is a much better choice.
The most available dogs are "teenage" dogs - between six months and 24 months For the most part there is nothing wrong with these dogs, there were just in home that didn't match their needs. It might be, however, that they wouldn't have met your needs in your home either. The main difference is that with these older dogs you have a better chance of learning that before taking the dog home. Even if you want a puppy chances are if you are patient one will get turned into the shelter or rescue, especially the more popular large breeds e.g. German Shepherd, Labrador Retriever, Doberman etc.
My Tanith came from the Oakland Animal Shelter at the age of around 7 months, Tsuki was a mere 5 weeks when Northern California Border Collie rescue pulled him from an animal shelter, Oso was a street dog, Freeway, well you can guess where he came from and Turbo was another shelter dog.. These are great dogs. You won't find better from any breeder, anywhere. The only difference is that I got to learn their qualities as we got to know each other, instead of having expectations based on breed.
Shelters and rescues vary a lot in their willingness and ability to assess the suitability of a particular dog for your individual environment. Some are truly outstanding and a much better choice than a mediocre breeder. The worst of them have the placement and knowledge ability similar to the average breeder advertising in the newspaper.
If you are new to dogs, or have young children in the household, your best option is the rescue organizations. In most rescues the dogs are fostered in the homes of volunteers. This reduces the risk of behavioral problems associated with being caged in a constantly active and changing environment. It also offers an opportunity to make a better match between the dog and the prospective family. The foster family will have had an opportunity to observe the dog in a typical family environment.
Search features, resources, statistics. A good site for not only finding a rescue or shelter pet but for learning more about shelters and rescues.
The benefits and the risks of adopting a shelter dog. Look, let;s not put shelter dogs on a pedestal. They are dogs and they aren't all angels. For anyone to insist that getting a shelter dog is automatically superior to getting a dog from any other source is just as myopic as trashing all shelter dogs. Getting the dog that works in your home is the dog that is going to live a long life, and that is what it is all about.
Why adopt a rescue dog?
Outlines the potential in a rescued dog.
Learn About Leo in NEW LIVES: Stories of Rescued Dogs Helping, Healing and Giving Hope, by Joanne Wannan This book includes a story of Leo, a rescued fighting dog who goes on to help people in animal assisted activities and many other rescued dog tales.
Chosen Puppy by Carol Lea Benjamin
Second Hand Dog by Carol Lea Benjamin
Purebred Rescue Dog Adoption: Rewards And Realities by Liz Palika
Canine Behavior Program: Body Postures & Evaluating Behavioral Health
by Suzanne Hetts & Daniel Estep
It really is not "over population" or "lack of homes" that explains shelter population. Most animals that end up in shelters are due to lack of retention, not lack of homes. The animal HAD a home, they just didn't keep that home. It is lack of pet retention. People don't keep the pets they have. If pets were placed so that they retained their homes there would be many fewer in the shelters.
Just telling people not to buy from pet shops doesn't answer the critical issue of pet retention. It leaves people making exactly the same mistake in getting a shelter pet as they have made in getting a pet shop pet.
Shelters may lack the profit motive but they are not blameless in the area of poor placement practices. Many rescues are overly restrictive and end up killing or warehousing pets unnecessarily because not enough people can meet their standards. They too often chase people away by setting bars but not guiding and supporting people into meeting that standard. Other shelters are ready to sell the animal to anyone who will pay the fee, with little to no attempt to counsel, guide or support that adoption.
Telling people to get shelter pets without providing any resources at all as to how to make a good selection risks a revolving door with the pet's behavior becoming worse with each rehome until it is unsaveable. I'm not adverse to taking that risk if the alternative is killing the pet, but resolving too many animals in shelters requires being honest about why they are there and what it takes to change.
See the Rescue Dogs shop buttons, stickers, t-shirts and more.
Copyright © 1997-2003, Diane Blackman
Created: October 25, 1997
Updated: March 12, 2010