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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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    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Indeed, I am so glad that we share the same view of that, Anna. Thanks for sharing!

    • Anna Sternfeldt profile image

      Anna Sternfeldt 

      8 years ago from Svenljunga, Sweden

      Great info that many people should read, Rescuing dogs are a great thing to do, and still all these considerations are so important. I hope many people who are thinking of taking care of a shelter dog is finding this page.

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Hi Faithful Daughter, so glad you have stopped in. Glad we agree here! There are so many pets in shelters waiting for a home... let's support them.

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Hi, Suhaili! Intriguing that you are a hiking enthusiast! Many dogs love a good hike., particularly adopted dogs! They'd be the first to want a run. Thank you for sharing!!

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 

      8 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      For too long I have been a pure pedigreed dog fan and have one too, but when I get my second and third dog down the road as part of building my hiking team, they will be from shelter.

      One of the prime reason that I will opt for a shelter dog, and it is mentioned in your hub, is that it is going to be a grown up dog, already house broken. Also, given my needs of dogs as companions during my long distance hiking trips, it will be easier for the shelter / foster home to match one (or two) with my lifestyle.

      Thank you very much for an informative hub with lots of disconfirming the myth attributes.

    • Faithful Daughter profile image

      Evie Lopez 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Thanks for writing this. All my pets, except for one, came from the shelter or were a case of abandonment/abuse. I highly recommend to anyone looking for a pet to stop by the shelter before even considering buying one. There are many lonely, loving and faithful companions just waiting for the right pet mommy or daddy to come along and adopt them.

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Mark! Am glad to help. Sad to see the great numbers of abandoned dogs, some due to little behavioral problems. Thanks so much!

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 

      8 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Excellent review of all the myths out there, and why they are all false. I pinned this and shared on HP. I hope everyone planning to choose a dog takes a look at it.

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Whoa, I certainly hope that the practice does not continue either, Jackie! Thanks for sharing!

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      8 years ago from the beautiful south

      Years ago I got a few dogs from the pound and they always died in a few days (except one). I did go for the small ones or puppies and a vet told me that these puppies were full of worms and they gave them too much medicine at once for their weight and it rushed the worms into their hearts, killing them. Just thought I would share that in case it is still being done. I sure hope not though.

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Sorry to hear that the first dog didn't work out, Glimmer. Thankfully he's got a new home!! Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Welcome, DDE!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Exactly, Iguidenetwork, you've said it well. All it takes is a little Tender Loving Care. Thanks for sharing, Iguidenetwork~

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Claudia Mitchell 

      8 years ago

      This is very useful. We had a horrible experience adopting a shelter dog and after much soul searching we realized that it did not work out. Luckily we knew someone who was willing to take the dog and it is now happy and adjusted. We have since gotten another dog who we love with all of our hearts. Your tips are really good and remind people to think of everything. Up, useful and shared.

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Wow, glad that I'm right on the button about black dogs and I'm so happy that you'll be using a shelter dog for the classroom! Thanks for sharing!!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Blessings to them Ruchira, let's hope you'll meet a great dog!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks Travmaj! Lat's hope they do...these dogs are the most deserving of a home!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Reminds me of how my JRT reacted when I stepped in his pen. He chose me and I sort of had no choice but to take him home! LOL!. Choice well made, for 10 years. Thanks for sharing!!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      8 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Great ideas for dog lovers, most important and helpful thanks

    • iguidenetwork profile image


      8 years ago from Austin, TX

      There are many good-looking dogs in the shelter. It doesn't matter if it's a purebred or a mongrel. If you take care of a dog, it will certainly be healthy and would look beautiful -- and I'm sure the dog would be more than grateful for that. It's in the care of the owners. :)

      Thanks for refuting the popular misconceptions about sheltered animals. Voted up and and a following. :)

    • girishpuri profile image

      Girish puri 

      8 years ago from NCR , INDIA

      very useful and great info here, Michele. Your tips would definitely help many who want to adopt a pet, useful hub.

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Hi Christy!! Please introduce us when you get one!!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Yes, they make the most awesome pets!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Hello to him for me!! And a huge paw shake, Bill.

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Rottys are very misunderstood dogs, web923. Once you get along with one they are so loyal to you!! Thanks for coming by!!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Yay for Kevin and the family!! These are actually more obedient, having been through a bit more. Thanks for sharing, my friend.

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks Carol. There are so many there who need a home!! Thanks for sharing!

    • justateacher profile image

      LaDena Campbell 

      8 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

      Great information - almost all of my pets have come from the humane society or some other form of rescue situation. I agree with what you say about "what you see is what you get" - with a rescue dog, they already have their habits ingrained and so you know more about what you are getting. My next dog will come from a shelter or humane society and will be taught to be a therapy dog for my classroom.

      On Black Friday, our local humane society had a "sale" on black animals. They were given away that day. When one of the humane society officials was interviewed about why black dogs were so hard to adopt out, she replied it was because it was harder to see facial expressions on black dogs and that they came across as less happy and less friendly - even if the dog was jumping up and giving people kisses...I don't know how true this is...but it is another reason...

      Voted up!

    • Ruchira profile image


      8 years ago from United States

      Good pointers Michelle.

      I have a feeling I will be adopting a dog in the near future cause of my kids likings/ fondness.

      Useful, interesting with voted up :)

      Sharing it across

    • travmaj profile image


      8 years ago from australia

      Well done - so interesting and informative. Over many years I've adopted shelter dogs and so have my friends - all with love and so much to offer. It just makes sense. What wonderful companions dogs are and so loyal. Your love of dogs comes shining through - thank you, Voting Up. Hope a few more people visit shelters and give another dog a chance to shine.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      8 years ago from North Central Florida

      Great suggestions. We have adopted all of our dogs except one from shelters and have been so happy with all of our new family members. I think they knew they were special because we CHOSE THEM and they CHOSE US as we interviewed them.

      Sending Angels to you :) ps

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 

      8 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Awe, great info here Michelle! I do not have a dog but now I have good background info if I get one.

    • Lipnancy profile image

      Nancy Yager 

      8 years ago from Hamburg, New York

      If we could have a pet, I would not hesitate to get one from a shelter.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      8 years ago from Olympia, WA

      We have had our puppy now for a year, and we adopted him from the shelter. It's been a perfect match so far and we love him.

    • web923 profile image

      Bill Blackburn 

      8 years ago from Twentynine Palms, California

      Great job of debunking the myths. I adopted a Rotty that someone had given up (reportedly aggressive), and he was the most gentle and loving dog. He may have just needed a different environment! Great topic and awesome Hub!

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 

      8 years ago from New York, New York

      Great article. By the way, Kevin's parents adopted both their dogs from shelters and they are both amazingly sweet and good dogs. So you are right in not judging just because they are indeed shelter dogs. Have of course voted way up and shared all over!!

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      8 years ago from Arizona

      Though we have adopted many cats from animal shelters I always want to take all the dogs home. I almost have a hard time looking at the sad little guys who want a home. This is a great and informative hub. I am voting up and pinning.

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      An article on the things to consider when adopting a pet.


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