“Adopt don’t shop” is a mantra utilized by many organizations devoted to finding loving homes for shelter animals. With thousands of dogs, cats and other companion animals residing in shelters or being fostered until they can find their forever homes, rescue organizations urge the pet-loving public to adopt rather than purchase dogs from private breeders.
Individuals who choose to adopt a dog from a private rescue, humane society, animal shelter, or another welfare group would be wise to follow some guidelines that can help individuals and families find the best matches with their new pets.
“It’s important to be honest with the rescue group regarding, not only what you’re looking for in a dog, such as disposition, energy level, age, and size, but to describe the overall household dynamic,” advises Toni Diamond, founder of Diamond Dogs Rescue, Inc. (www.diamonddogsrescueinc.com), a foster-based rescue with resources in New Jersey and Massachusetts. “This way the rescue can match your needs with the dogs they have available to ensure the best opportunity the placed pet will remain in your home.”
Here are some other tips to consider if you’re thinking of adopting a pet.
Think about fostering first. If you’re on the fence about whether to take in a dog right now, fostering offers a way to gauge how life can change with a dog in the household. Fostering a dog can free up resources and enable rescues to help other dogs. Many “foster fails” are dogs that foster families adopted themselves because they couldn’t bear to give the dogs up.
Expect to be vetted. Rescue groups generally do some type of adopter check, which includes an application questionnaire, and may want to visit your home to be sure that it is safe and comfortable for the dog. Expect an adoption fee, as this helps defray the cost of sheltering animals.
Don’t feel limited by geography. Rescues handle dogs from across the country. Some may even be willing to facilitate travel from one area to another. If you see a dog online that seems to be a perfect fit but is a good distance away, contact the rescue to see what can be done.
Be patient and open-minded. Rescued animals often have been jostled around a bit, moving from place to place. Expect a transition period for the shell-shocked animal to settle down before judging his or her true personality. It’s possible for rescued dogs to have accidents in a home, act out or be hesitant around people while they learn to trust their new owners.