According to the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), approximately 3.9 million dogs enter animal shelters in the United States every year. Sadly, about 1.2 million of these dogs are euthanized. Thus, it is a noble act of kindness to save a dog by adopting him or her from a shelter.
Below you will find 3 important tips for shelter dog adoption:
1. A Shelter Dog’s True Personality May Not Shine Through
It is often said that a dog “blossoms” after he or she is adopted. In other words, their personality changes for the better! Look at it from the dog’s perspective. No matter how nice it is, it’s tough living in a shelter! You have to spend a lot of time in a cage. You don’t get to snuggle up to to your favorite human when you get cold. You don’t get to take long walks when the sun is out. The nice volunteers may be too busy taking care of basic needs to spend much time playing with you. And basically… you don’t have loyal humans doting on you like you would if you were adopted!
So, if you see a shelter dog being quiet and shy, don’t assume that is his or her true personality. Likewise, if a shelter dog seems a little irritable, keep in mind the circumstances and know that he or she may just need some TLC from a doting human!
2. Ask For a Trial Period
Most animal shelters will allow a trial period if you ask for this. Many shelters set this up as a “foster care” period so you have the first option to adopt the dog at the end of the foster care period. In this way, you can determine if a dog’s true personality will mix well with you, your family, and potentially other pets you have in the household.
Be sure you ask for a long enough period to allow the dog plenty of time to acclimate to his or her new surroundings. In this way, you can be certain if the dog you have selected is a good match.
3. Ask If There Are Any Intake Notes
When a dog owner relinquishes his or her dog to a shelter, they are usually asked to fill out an intake form. Some of the questions on this form are specifically about the dog’s personality and history. Additionally, one or more staff or volunteers may talk directly with the dog owner to find out more. There is also often information submitted at intake when strays are picked up. This information can be extremely valuable to you in both selecting a dog and in knowing how to care for a specific dog.
Here’s a couple of examples on how intake notes can be helpful.
You may learn that a particular dog was best buddies with his cat sister for two years. If you have a cat at home, this would be good to know. You may even find out that his cat sister is also up for adoption and you may decide you want to adopt both animals so they can stay together. For a stray dog, you may learn that she had signs of severe abuse and neglect after the veterinarian examined her. In this case, you would know that you may need to treat this particular dog more gently at first and work a little harder on her nutrition to get her fully healthy again.
Dogs have the ability to bring out the best in people and shelter dog adoption epitomizes this. Of course, shelter dogs also have so much love to give, people who adopt them often say they get back more than they give to the dog. We think it’s a win win! Enjoy your shelter dog!