If there has been a silver lining to 2020 and the upheaval caused by COVID-19, it's that more people have found they have more time on their hands to care for a new pet.
"Adopt don't shop" is a mantra popular among many pet lovers. It calls to mind that there are thousands of dogs currently residing in shelters that are in need of good homes. Supporters of "adopt don't shop" urge people in the market for new pets to adopt animals from local shelters rather than buy them from breeders.
The Humane Society of the United States says that there were approximately 10,000 puppy mills operating in the United States in 2019. Prospective pet owners who want to do their part against animal cruelty can adopt a needy pet from an area shelter. Some shelters are filled with pets from the local area. Other shelters work with rescue groups that transport dogs from various parts of the country. When adopting a shelter dog, keep these tips in mind.
Understand the responsibility first
Dogs make wonderful, boisterous and loving additions to a home. Much like having a child, welcoming a puppy into a home means spending weeks or months training the animal. This may result in initial damage to belongings and time constraints on people's schedules. Older dogs may be set in their ways and also require training, or they may have special medical needs. Be sure to weigh all of the requirements carefully before adopting the animal.
Get a behavioral and health assessment
The Humane Society of Ocean City indicates that an established shelter that prides itself on animal rescue will provide health and behavioral assessments for all dogs. Personality, energy level, shyness, and aggression levels will be determined before putting the dog up for adoption. This helps people find a dog that meshes with their expectations and lifestyles.
Match the household
Consider the household's lifestyle and pace pre-pandemic to see if it is conducive to having a pet. While there may be plenty of time now when people are working remotely and children are not attending in-person classes, things may change in the months to come as life returns to normal. Can a dog still fit in when responsibilities change? Can you modify to accommodate the dog?
Look at the shelter itself
Make sure you adopt from a shelter that is clean, friendly and organized and has follow-up resources. Reliable shelters typically conduct interviews of prospective pet owners and will ask for references. Be leery of rescues or shelters that are dirty, do not ask pertinent questions and seem to have dogs that appear unwell.
Expect a fee
Shelters and rescue groups vary in regard to adoption costs. Anything from $150 to $400 may be collected. Keep in mind that 25 to 30 percent of dogs in shelters are purebreds, according to a report by CBS News. Adoption fees can be a small price to pay for a loving dog.