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Adopting a Shelter Dog

by Brigitte Smith

Have you given any thought to how you will go about choosing your next family dog?  Perhaps you'll look in the newspaper for advertisements from breeders who are selling new puppies, or perhaps you might locate suitable breeders via listings on the internet?  Hopefully you would not consider purchasing a puppy from a local pet store, seeing as it is widely known that a large proportion of these dogs come from puppy mills. 

Perhaps the best method, in terms of being helpful to society in general, is to adopt a dog from a local animal shelter.  Have you considered this an an option for you?

Adopting a shelter dog brings a new companion into your life, as well as helping to reduce the number of unwanted and homeless dogs in your area. Unless the shelter is a facility which does not practise euthanasia, (and these are sadly few and far between), it will also save a dog’s life. Animal lovers everywhere champion the adoption of dogs from shelters as opposed to any other method of bringing home a new pet for this reason alone, but there are also other reasons to choose the adoption option.

· Adopted pets have been examined by a vet and have usually been given a clean bill of health
· Shelters can often give impartial information about a dog’s background, and its temperament
· Adopting a pet frees space in the shelter for another dog to be saved and adopted out

When you adopt a dog you can be sure that the staff at the shelter has had the dog examined by a vet for diseases and parasites and that the dog has had its shots. This is not always true of dogs acquired by other means such as taking on an older dog from a private advertisement (“Dog Free to Good Home”).

The dogs at a shelter don’t consist only of strays or dogs that have been cruelly abandoned, but are often turned in to the shelter by former owners for various reasons. When this happens, the shelter collects as much information about the dog as possible, including whether it’s good with children, how much it barks, how playful or obedient it is, whether it’s housebroken, and other important details. While it’s true that this information is only as good as the honesty of the former owner, it’s usually reasonably accurate.

Animal shelters provide a valuable service to the community by keeping the streets as free of stray animals as possible. Because many of them do this with little or no public funding or governmental support, they are very limited in the number of dogs they can have in the shelter at any given time. The only way that they can bring in more stray animals is if they remove the ones they currently have. This is done through adoption or euthanasia. Obviously they would prefer to have the dogs adopted rather than put to sleep.  Adopting a dog could very well not only save the dog’s life, but it allows the shelter to bring in another dog in its place.

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