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Things to consider when adopting a dog:rescuing dogs from animal shelters

Updated on June 19, 2013

Dog adoption video

Adopting a dog is akin to bringing a new child into the family. Adoption means a need for adapting to circumstances on the parts of both yourself and the dog. Certainly, there are many things to think about and changes to be made.

We have many choices as to where to adopt the dog from. A little dog staring out of the pet shop window may catch our eye, or the cute runt of the litter at the breeders may catch our attention.

Sadly, the dog at the shelter is forgotten. Many are put to sleep because shelters have limited resources for the great number of dogs that arrive at their doors. They are often neglected because they simply do not look as cute as the plump puppies in the pet shop window, often riddled with disease and illnesses.

This writer will attempt to debunk the many myths held by ourselves with regards the subject of adopting dogs from shelters. She will lay of the many benefits of taking them in and show a little about what things have to be considered.

Lacey from the Dog Pound
Lacey from the Dog Pound | Source

What are the myths surrounding shelter dogs?

It is rather unfortunate that being in a shelter brings with it the unwanted stigma that we humans are sometimes too quick to attach. I shall attempt to disprove some of the beliefs that are attached to adopting an animal from a shelter.

Personally, my Jack Russell Terrier, Rosco, was rescued from one. When we brought him in, he was all of a healthy 2 years, and the only reason he was left at the shelter was because his previous owners were migrating and could not take him along. He proved to be a joy for 10 years or so, providing life and love to our home, until he passed away from cancer.

He was a dog who clearly was not what others thought a shelter dog was, Unfortunately, these beliefs still cloud the minds of many a prospective dog owner. Now, what are they?


Shelter dogs are left there because there’s something wrong with them.

Many people balk at adopting a dog from a shelter because of the attached notion that there would be illness, loss of limb or other negative traits that come with the animal.

In actual fact, these dogs are simply unlucky rather than unfit. Rosco was a clear example. A healthy Jack Russell, he jumped into my arms when I stepped into his pen. I still wonder who adopted who!

With shelter animals, you will never know what you will get.

Many go into a shelter in a state of apprehension, expecting the unexpected from the animal on the opposite site of the cage. Possibly a bite, or an aggressive snarl?

On the contrary, you tend to get what you see at the animal shelter. That is because dogs at shelters tend to be adults, even more often senior pets. If you remember the phrase “old habits die hard”, it characterizes the adult dog to a T. They would have already inculcated their habits, so if you see a snappy dog, he will be that way when you bring him home. If you meet a docile animal, he will be that way too. So making a judgement about adoption is not all that difficult.

Shelter pets are sickly

Many think that only sick or handicapped pets are left at shelters. While that is somewhat true, there are many younger, healthy dogs like Rosco the JRT who need a home as well.

Purebreds are impossible to find at animal shelters

Many think that purebred dogs are difficult or impossible to find at shelters. Well, guess where I found Rosco! He was a bona fide Jack Russell, hyperactive and intelligent to boot!

Animal shelters only have cats or dogs available.

These can be found there, certainly, but so can a whole host of smaller animals like gerbils, rabbits and even terrapins! The Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Singapore houses many small animals in need of a loving home.

When picking out a pet, only puppies or kittens make the cut.

So far from the truth. Many adult and senior dogs are loving and deserving of a home. In fact, there are many benefits of adopting a senior pet.

A family friend adopted one of two samoyeds I had to find homes for. He was an older man nearing the end of his life. He wanted an older dog to accompany him till the end of his days, so he chose Romeo, a 12-year-old sammie.

A touching story evolved. Romeo kept him company for the next few months and when he passed away, Romeo did too, on the same day.

Black dogs are the new black

Darker haired dogs, for some reason, tend to be overlooked in favor of dogs with lighter coats. This is possibly because they appear more frightening. It is far from the truth!


What are the advantages of adopting a dog from a shelter?

Adopting from a shelter rather than a pet store does bring with it some benefits, despite the common misperceptions. Here are some reasons why potential dog owners should consider them.

You will save a life.

Shelters often end up with no space for all their unwanted dogs, so many end up having to be put to sleep so as to make more room. When you adopt a dog from a shelter, you save a life!


You will find a sense of satisfaction getting a dog from a shelter and knowing that you have made a difference to the life of another being. There is gratification in watching the animal become happy and grow!

Improved quality of life

With a pet around, there will be more excuses for more outings to the beach or to dog runs. These days there are even dog friendly cafes for an owner and pooch to visit.

Shelters tend to evaluate the dog and owner’s compatibility.

Shelters will help an owner decide if a dog is suitable for his temperament. This is great for new owners who may not know if a dog is the right one for him.

Shelter dogs have updated shots

Most shelter dogs would have already had their immunity boosts. So owners will be taking home a healthy dog!


What should I consider when adopting a dog?

Adopting a dog is bringing a new child or person into the family, so there are many things to think about before going ahead with the process.

Assess your situation

If a potential owner is not ready for the responsibilities of adoption for family or other reasons, it is better not to adopt. It is worse to do so only to leave it at the shelter just a while later.

Meet with volunteers and workers at the shelters.

These folks will tell you which dogs are their favorites and find a better match for you!

Factor in the family

Make sure the family is involved in the adoption process. Take into account their comfort levels or individual situations. If there is a member of your family with inherent allergies, it would be wise to give the process a miss.

Walk with a few dogs

Narrow down your selection to a few dogs and walk them to get a feel about their temperament. That little walk tells you a lot.

Arrange for the new dog to be housebroken

A dog will get into a few ‘accidents’ especially if he has been at the shelter for a while. In fact, any dog would need to become accustomed to a new environment!

Set expectations for your dog

Teach your new dog the rules of your home. Let him know what he cannot do and where he cannot go. The boundaries at the start make for less frustration.

If you were considering a dog for adoption, which would be your favorite?

See results

Useful Adoption Links

Here are some useful links if you are considering going online to adopt a pet.

The Humane Society



Adopt Me

Adopt a Pet


Adopting a dog is a heartwarming and fulfilling process. It is a small sacrifice that makes a huge difference to another life.


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