Adopt/foster a shelter dog
Why a shelter dog?
1. Feel satisfaction in giving a neglected, abused or abandoned animal a second chance at a happier life.
2. Adoption and fostering often saves an animal from being euthanised or placed in a kennel.
3. There are many unregistered or unscrupulous dog breeders. They are often in it for profit and female dogs are over-bred, and male and female dogs are maltreated. Puppies are also sold before they are ready to leave their mother. In countries with a pet overpopulation crisis, it does not make sense supporting breeders – most animals end up in a shelter, on the streets or euthanised.
4. Shelters have pure-breed AND mixed breed dogs in need of homes. There are, sadly, many stereotypes and misconceptions regarding cross-breed or mixed breed dogs. In fact, these dogs are often genetically stronger and more resilient than their pure-breed counterparts.
Choosing a shelter dog
1. Make sure that you and your family are ready to make this life commitment. You must be the ‘forever home’ – a shelter dog has been through enough already.
2. Identify a reputable shelter. Do the homework. Conduct internet and social media searches and check ratings and reviews. Make sure that the shelter processes formal adoption applications and conducts home-checks/vetting as part of the process.
3. Spend time at the dog shelter, walk through the kennel rows or exercise runs. Don’t just go for the first dog you see, or base your decisions purely on “cuteness” attributes. Do homework on the kind of breed that you are keen on and check breed temperament and needs. The dog needs to suit your lifestyle, expectations and home environment e.g. Huskies need lots of exercise and stimulation as they are working dogs. If they do not get this, they may become destructive.
4. Try to get all family members to interact and engage with the dog. You could take the dog for a walk to get to know it.
5. Discuss the dog’s history/story with the shelter staff. This provides insight into the dog’s background, needs, fears and temperament. For example, it may have been abandoned without food and may be fixated with food.
6. As part of an adoption process, the shelter staff will do a “home-check” – i.e. will ask to visit your home to ensure that the dog will be safe and well loved. For example, they will check where the dog will sleep or that it can’t easily escape and get lost again.
7. You will be asked to pay an adoption fee that contributes towards his/her sterilization, vaccinations, de-worming, deflea-ing, and micro-chipping. This should be done before the dog is released into a home. Adoption fees may also be used to feed, medicate or home other dogs, as well as pay monthly shelter running costs.
Thank you to Chantelle Murray from Paws R US animal shelter for assisting in putting this checklist together.