If you’re considering adding a four-legged friend to your family, rescuing a dog is a wonderful option. Not only will you be bringing a new companion into your life, but you will also be saving an animal’s life at the same time!
According to the ASPCA, an average of 2.7 million shelter pets are euthanized each year, and approximately half of them are dogs. Although this is a disheartening and shocking statistic, you can be part of the solution by searching for your next best friend in a shelter. There is a shelter dog waiting just for you, and adopting a dog is a simple process.
Step 1: Find the Right Fit
Although it might be tempting to adopt the first dog that looks at you with those adorable puppy eyes, it’s important to think about what type of dog is the right fit for you and your environment. Shelters get new dogs daily that vary in breed, age, size, and temperament. Prior to visiting shelters, sit down and evaluate the factors that may impact what dog you choose to adopt.
First, if you have roommates or a family, make sure to speak with them about rescuing a dog before you begin your search. It is important that everyone is on the same page so that the dog comes into a loving and welcoming home. Other pets in the house should be taken into consideration too.
You should also take time to think about your physical environment. Is there space for a dog? Is there somewhere for him to stretch his legs and play? Your location may play a part in the size and breed of dog that you are on the lookout for. Another important consideration is the age of the dog. If you want to raise the dog from a young age, keep an eye out for a puppy.
However, remember that puppies require a lot of attention, care, and patience. If training a teething puppy doesn’t sound like an adventure you’re ready for, consider getting a middle-aged or senior dog that already knows how to be on his best behavior.
Step 2: Start Your Search
Once you have an idea about the type of dog that would fit well with your life and surroundings, it’s time to start your search. There is an abundance of resources available to help you find the perfect pet. Almost every shelter has the profiles of their available animals online. Additionally, there are a multitude of search engines such as Adopt a Pet that compile profiles from a variety shelters for you. This is an easy way to browse potential pets from the comfort of your own home.
However, if a picture is worth a thousand words, face-to-face time with adoption candidates is worth a million. Most counties have a variety of both public and private shelters, and spending time in the shelters will give you the best understanding of each dog’s characteristics and disposition. Visit an assortment of shelters in your area to get a good sense of the available pups.
Remember, you don’t have to find your future soul mate on day one. If you see a dog and fall in love, that is wonderful! On the other hand, if it takes three, four, or five trips to different shelters, do not get discouraged. Nationally, an average of 7.6 million animals enter shelters each year, so if you are patient, there are plenty of opportunities to adopt the right dog for you.
Step 3: Meet the Mutts
After searching online and in-person for your next fuzzy companion, it’s playtime! Every shelter is a bit different, but typically you can speak to someone at the front desk about the dog(s) you are interested in, and they will take both you and the dog to a play area to get better acquainted.
During this session, you can spend some quality time with the dog to see if he is the one. During these play-dates, it’s important that all family members are present so that everyone can contribute to the decision. Some shelters will even allow you to bring an existing pet from home to the shelter to meet the dog and ensure that the two get along.
Step 4: Seal the Deal
Now that you’ve found your newest family member, you can seal the deal with the shelter. This process involves paying the adoption fee, which varies from shelter to shelter and can be anywhere from $25- $200.
The shelters will also give the dog all of its required shots and sterilization before releasing him to you. This step ensures the safety and health of your dog before sending him out into the big world! Although this process may take a few days, once complete, you are free to take your furry friend to his forever home.