Why You Should Consider a Resue Dog
What Kind of Dogs Are Available?
If you are considering a pet dog, you probably have some idea of the breed you would like to choose. Whether you prefer a round faced Pug, a regal German Shephard, or a fuzzy Samoyed, there is a rescue society dedicated to saving and re-homing your favorite breed. Most any breed of dog you prefer can be adopted. And organizations that shelter specific breeds are generally very knowledgeable about that particular breed and can help you determine if that breed is a good fit for your home and family situation.
They are easy to track down too. Just do a web search for "German Shephard Rescue" and your state or region, and you should find a site to browse for animals. Most sites have a directory of pets currently for adoption with photos, vitals such as age, size, sex, physical condition, etc. and information on the dogs history if available. They also will tell you if the dog is good, or not, with kids, cats, other dogs, etc, and if it is protective of it's food, shy with males, or any other personality traits you need to know about an animal you are planning to bring into your home and family. This is a lot more information than you will get with a puppy from a breeder or a pet store, etc. I have found that the reputable rescues work very hard to place their dogs with the proper new owners, as they are some of the most dedicated animal lovers out there and really do want to do what is best for the animal and it's prospective new family.
So, as you can see, just about any kind of dog is available for adoption.
Cosmo, Our Rescue Malamute Mix
Aren't Rescue Dogs a Risky Choice?
Many people who aren't familiar with rescue dogs assume they are all street dogs or dogs surrendered because they have issues, but this assumption could not be farther from the truth. While there will be some dogs with issues from every source, rescue dogs are no more or less liable to be problematic than dogs from breeders. But since no body wants to take home a pet with unknown baggage, they just steer clear of rescue animals altogether, and that's a shame.
Rescue dogs come from all kinds of situations--from dogs whose owners have deployed overseas or passed on or are too sick or elderly to care for them anymore, to dogs picked up on the streets or surrendered because their owners didn't want them anymore. Both of our rescue dogs were street pick ups and they both ended up being excellent pets--loving, smart, and wonderful companions.
Dogs with behavioral issues are generally placed into foster homes with experienced rescue families to be trained and rehabilitated before being placed into an adoptive home. This is truly one of the wonderful things about rescues.
While there are many great breeders in the dog world, there are also unscrupulous people posing as responsible breeders and passing off dogs that are sick, inbred, or not what they are represented to be. Rescue dogs from reputable rescues are well vetted, meaning screened for behavioral issues, personality traits, and basic skills such as house training, walking on a leash, etc. Nobody at the rescue wants to home a dog only to have it returned to the facility because it didn't work out. That is another important point--most organizations will take the dog back at any time if you must surrender it for any reason, and some have a return period within which they will refund your money if you return the dog to them.
So, no, Rescue Dogs are not particularly risky.
Aren't Rescue Dogs Sick Dogs?
Sometimes, rescue dogs picked up off the street are sick. They have been out on the streets fending for themselves, and may be underweight, have parasites, or are not in the best of health. Rescues work closely with local vets to treat sick animals and return them to good health. Dogs that are surrendered by owners due to unfortunate circumstances are usually healthy dogs and don't need vet care. Even then, reputable rescue societies will insure that pets they adopt out are up to date on shots and are spayed or neutered, saving you the trouble.
I have had more than one friend spend many hundreds of dollars on a pure bred puppy only to have to spend additional large sums of money on vet bills because the puppy came with a serious health issue. Some got some compensation from the seller, some did not. Rescue dogs are examined for signs of serious issues and screened, although just like expensive dogs, there could always be an underlying issue that isn't easily detected. Some dogs in rescue have real disabilities. They are blind, deaf, missing a limb or have some other physical defect. These dogs are special adoption cases and are advertised as such on websites, and are usually adopted by equally special people who have strong hearts and deep convictions about animal welfare. We've all seen the incredible stories on YouTube or Facebook of the little weiner dog with wheels that elicits tears and sighs. These are animals with special needs and if it is something you feel called to do, rescues will be supportive and grateful should you decide to save such an animal. They will also thoroughly screen you to insure you have the time, resources and temperament to care for the pet properly.
Our first rescue dog Cody came from the Humane Society and had been picked up off the street. He was sick when we first got him, but quick and attentive vet care got him swiftly back to good health, and that Malamute lived to approximately sixteen years old! Lucky us, the average life span of a malamute is generally much shorter.
But I Want a PUREBRED!
Okay, great. Plenty of rescue dogs come with papers. Those that are picked up off the street obviously don't so if you have your heart set on a papered dog, choose one that has been surrendered and has papers. Some breeders are also dedicated to rescuing dogs in their breed category, or are familiar with Rescue Societies and can help you find Purebred dogs with documents to adopt. Contact local breeders in your area and let them know you are looking for a rescue dog and they may be able to assist you with your search.
I'm Sold! What Do I Do Next?
Hopefully, any fear or trepidation you may have had about adopting a rescue dog has been soothed, and you are ready to start searching for your next best friend.
If so, here are some suggestions:
- Do your research: Hop online, type in "your breed Rescue" , or if you are not breed specific, type in Dogs for Adoption, and your state or region and choose some sites to study.
- When you find a site, spend some time reading the Home page, the Mission Statement and other general information to get a feel for the rescue. Most are non-profit organizations staffed by selfless, dedicated individuals who go above and beyond the call of duty to save, care for, and re-home distressed dogs. You will get a sense of this as you read about them.
- When you get a warm fuzzy feeling from a site, start browsing their Adoption pages and start studying the dog profiles. If you have criteria such as age, size, sex of the animal you want, start there, and then read the dog's story to see if it fits in with your family of three kids, a cat and a parrot. Often if a dog for adoption is in a foster home, the foster owner will post updates on how the dog is doing with training, getting along with family members, etc., which is valuable information for a prospective owner to have. Honestly, how many dating sites give you that much information?
- Once you find a dog you are interested in, make sure you meet any criteria in the dogs profile, such as fenced yard required, no cats, etc. The requirements are there to insure that the rescue dog goes to a home that is able to accommodate it and are not merely suggestions. Some rescues will send a representative to your home to check on these requirements before finalizing your adoption agreement, so be prepared for that.
- Most Rescue Websites will have some kind of contact form for you to fill out and will ask for information about you, your family, your home, etc. and some even have you fill out a questionnaire designed to screen out people they feel may not be good candidates for rescue pet ownership. They are serious about finding these dogs their forever home, and who could blame them?
- Once you pass pre-screening, you should arrange a visit to meet the dog you have chosen. Some rescues bring the dog to a neutral location away from the rescue so that the animal is not distracted or stressed out and is able to interact with you naturally. Others have you come to the facility, which can make the dog seem a little jumpier than normal. This was the case with both our rescues, but they calmed considerably once we took them home.
- Once you meet your dog in person, you will want to ease into the meeting, give the dog a little time to get to know you, spend some time talking to the caretaker about your dog, take him for a little walk, and just get a feel for each other. Only you will know if the dog is right for you. I hope that will be true for you, but be aware that it's a lot like any new relationship. It can take awhile for a strong bond to develop. Give it a chance.
Final Thoughts on Rescuing a Dog
I hope that after reading this, you have made the decision to adopt a rescue dog. There is something so rewarding about rescuing a dog from a difficult situation, taking it home, loving it, training it, and sharing your life with it. A veterinarian once told me that rescue dogs are the most loyal and grateful dogs. I know that our's have been incredible additions to our family and have been willing recipients of our love and affection and have given so much back to us in return. Both of our rescue dogs came to us after the loss of a previous dog and we have never once regretted our choices. We have no idea what their lives were like before we invited them into ours, but we know that our lives were made richer, happier, and fuller because of them. And I am pretty sure that they would tell you a similar story about us if they could. It's a beautiful thing.