Adopting from a shelter or a rescue is an excellent way of helping out dogs in need. You can find some incredible dogs at your nearby shelter, many of them in desperate need of a loving, safe home.
But before you adopt, you should know a bit about shelters, as well as the adoption process. There are many great dogs at shelters, but they won’t all be a great fit for you.
Here, we’ll walk you through all you need to know about shelters and rescues, and help you find the perfect dog when you decide to adopt.
When looking for a dog at a shelter, make sure to choose one that best suits your situation. You won’t do the dog- or yourself- any favors if you adopt one that you’re not ready to take care of.
In fact, many dogs end up in shelters because their original owners didn’t have the resources, space, or time to take care of them. Often, people will choose a dog that is too large, only later realizing they don’t have the space needed to properly raise them.
Consider how much room you have at home, and pick an appropriately sized dog. If you’ve dreamed of getting a Great Dane your whole life, but live in a studio apartment, you should probably choose a different dog.
Also think about personality type. Are you high energy? Then you can handle a dog that needs lots of activity. However, if you have limited time or energy, you should consider a dog with a more relaxed demeanor.
Shelters are usually places that take in dogs that have been abandoned by their owners. In some cases, the owners themselves will drop the dog off at the shelter, claiming that they are unable to raise a dog. Shelters will also take in dogs that have been abandoned on the street.
Most shelters will allow you to come and visit dogs before you adopt. They may also allow you to have home trials, where you take a dog for a few days to see if they’re a good fit.
You’ll find just about every type of breed at a shelter, as well as dogs with a wide range of different personality types. The staff usually know the dogs well, and can help pair you with one that’s right for you.
Rescues are a bit different than shelters. Usually, they take in dogs who are abused, in many cases quite severely. The organizations tend to be private, and are sustained by donations and adoption fees.
Many rescues focus on a specific breed or cause, so they are a good place to look if you know what type of breed you’re interested in.
When people think of shelter dogs, they often imagine damaged, abused animals with behavioral issues. Although there are certainly dogs with problems that find their way to shelters,
Often, dog owners will be unable to take their dog with them when they move. Or they may no longer be in a financial position to take care of an animal. Or they were extra dogs from puppy mills, who were then dumped. Many of these dogs are happy and healthy, and raised in caring homes. Nonetheless, they end up in a shelter.
Rescue dogs do tend to have issues, as they were often abused by their previous owners. However, there are still many gentle, calm dogs in rescues that would make great family pets.
Pick A Specific Breed
Potential dog owners may also believe that shelters won’t allow you to find specific breeds. However, many shelters offer a wide variety of breeds for you to choose from.
If they do not have the breed you’re looking for, some shelters will put you on a waiting list. Once they take in a dog that matches your criteria, they’ll contact you and you can begin the adoption process.
There are also many rescue organizations that specialize in just one type of breed. For example, you’ll find many rescues that exclusively take in pitbulls, one of the most commonly abused and abandoned breeds.
If you have a specific breed in mind, there may be a rescue organization that can match you to the type of dog you’re looking for. Even if there isn’t one located in your state, many out of state rescue organizations can organize transportation if you decide to adopt.
Staff At Shelters Can Help Find You The Perfect Dog
Most shelter staff are dedicated to the dogs they care for, and want them to find a caring home. They can help you pick out a dog that is appropriate for you and your living situation.
The adoption process can be very different depending on the organization you work with.
Fill Out An Application
Nearly every shelter will make you fill out an application form before you are allowed to adopt. You’ll have to provide information such as your name, where you live, your living situation, and your age. They will use this to run some basic background screens.
Interview With Shelter Staff
Many organizations will schedule an interview, where you meet with the staff to discuss your living situation and what type of dog you think is right for you.
This may seem like a nerve wracking process, but there’s no need to panic. Remember, shelters have a lot of dogs, and they struggle to find enough loving homes for them. They’re often eager to work with you to help find the perfect dog.
However, they do care for all of their dogs, and they are usually unwilling to place them in a home that they feel isn’t the right fit. If they don’t think they have a good dog for you at the moment, they’ll usually tell you.
Many shelters will also schedule a home visit to learn more about your living situation. Again, there’s no need to be nervous. Shelter staff aren’t there to judge you. They’re just trying to make sure that the dog you adopt will be right for you.
Going To The Shelter
When you visit the shelter, always approach dogs slowly and follow any instructions given to you by the staff.
The dogs have to meet a lot of people, and this can put them under quite a bit of stress. They may be tired, anxious, or scared when they first meet you. Although it may be great to have your future dog run into your arms and give you a big hug, don’t be worried if a dog is a bit hesitant when you’re introduced.
Ask Plenty Of Questions
When you see all of the adorable dogs running around, your head may go blank. But it’s important you stay focused and ask the staff the right questions. This will help you make a better decision when picking out a dog.
Here are some questions you should ask:
This may seem like a long list. But it will help you find a dog that is right for you and your living situation. It will also help the staff understand what type of dog you’re looking for.
Consider Out Of State Shelters
There are many shelters that operate out of your state that would be willing to transport a dog to you.
These organizations often help dogs after natural disasters. Since so many homes in the area are devastated, in can be difficult to find a home for animals. That’s why they look for people out of state to adopt their dogs.
Finalizing Adoption And Paying Fees
It may take a while to find the right dog. But once you do, there’s no better feeling. But before you rush them home, you’ll have to fill out some final paperwork, as well as pay the adoption fee.
The organization will ask you to set a pick up date, in case you need some time to get your home prepared for your new dog. Then, you’ll fill out forms that legally put you in charge of the dog.
Fees vary widely depending on the organization you work with. Usually, they range from around $50-500. Although some of these fees may seem expensive, you’re helping support the shelter and giving them the money they need to keep taking in abandoned dogs. Your fee also covers any veterinary care or vaccinations the dog received.
If you can’t find the right dog at the shelter, don’t give up just yet. Head on over to our puppy finder, and get connected with some of the most loving, humane businesses and breeders in the country to meet the dog of your dreams.