Pets can enrich your life.
When you adopt a pet from an animal welfare organization, you are saving a life. You are discouraging the indiscriminate breeding of dogs for which there are simply not enough homes.
Adopting a rescue dog for your family presents a wonderful opportunity to teach your children basic values of compassion and caring, and also about the value of second chances.
Most dogs who come into rescue were not given up because they were “bad dogs” or had behavioural problems. Unfortunately, many people buy dogs without thinking about the time, effort and expense involved in keeping a dog. These dogs end up in shelters or along the side of the road or, if they’re lucky, in rescue. In fact, the most common reasons a dog ends up with a rescue organization include the following:
- The owners don’t have time for the dog.
- The owners find that they can’t afford either basic vet care or the expense involved in treating an illness or injury.
- The owner dies or goes into a nursing home.
- The owners divorce and neither party can keep the dog. (You would be amazed at how many dogs we get as a result of divorce!)
- A young couple has a child and no longer has time for the dog, or the dog no longer fits into their “lifestyle.”
- The owner is moving to an apartment building that doesn’t allow dogs.
- We also get dogs from shelters, where they have ended up because they were lost.
This is not to say that all of our rescue dogs come to you with perfect manners and are perfectly socialized and housebroken. Dogs need training, structure and leadership to become good canine citizens. But so do the puppies people buy! And a rescue dog usually needs much less training than a pup. TAGS dogs spend time in a foster home with an experienced dog owner before they are placed in an adoptive home. During that time, they are evaluated (in terms of their personalities—how well they deal with other dogs, with children and so on) and trained (housebroken, socialized) if necessary. Rescue programs are now seeing more and more purebred, registered dogs.
Reasons to choose a rescue dog
Those of us who volunteer in rescue all have at least one rescue dog, and we know what terrific pets they can be! Here are some reasons to consider a rescue dog if you are ready to add a dog to your family:
You’re not starting from scratch…
Because rescue dogs spend time in foster homes before they are adopted, they come to you with at least some social skills, housetraining and knowledge of basic commands.
Training is easier…
Whatever additional training needs to be done with a rescue dog will be much easier than training a puppy. It’s like the difference between teaching a one-year-old child and an eight-year-old. Your newly adopted rescue dog through TAGS will receive an eight-week behaviour training course absolutely free.
Fewer vet fees…
Rescue dogs have had physical examinations, have been spayed or neutered, microchipped and dewormed, and are up to date on shots. When you buy a puppy, you pay for the dog AND for puppy shots, spaying or neutering and any other basic medical expenses.
What you see is what you get…
When you buy a puppy, you can never really be sure what type of dog you’re going to get. All puppies are cute and playful, but their adult personalities aren’t visible until they’re about two years old, so you don’t know whether you’re getting a dog who wants to play all the time or a couch potato. When you rescue a dog, you know what the dog’s personality is like and whether it fits with what you want in a dog companion.
Why aren’t rescue dogs free?
Some people think that since they are willing to take a homeless dog off our hands, we should give them the dog without an adoption fee. Well, that would be nice, and in a perfect world, it would be possible. But vet care for our rescue dogs costs money, which our charity must recover, at least in part, in order to go on rescuing. Each dog must have a physical examination, receive any required vaccinations (for rabies, parvo virus, etc.), be microchipped and be spayed or neutered. The organization pays for these procedures. The fee we charge for adoption is to cover medical expenses for the dogs in foster care. Our volunteers are not paid a salary of any kind. There are also many dogs for which the adoption fee will never cover all the medical bills. Some dogs require unusually expensive care. The medical care for dogs that require surgery can cost thousands of dollars, yet those adopters will pay the same adoption fee.
Do your research
Even before you contact a rescue or enter a shelter, sit down with the family and discuss ALL the responsibilities and changes that will affect your household. Look closely at your lifestyle. A dog is a like a four-legged child; he or she needs your time and your commitment.
- Dogs require regular exercise, so are you an active family or do you prefer lots of couch time? Look for breeds or mixes that suit your personality.
- Some dogs require regular grooming by a professional or daily brushing.
- Pets cost money, so ask yourself, “Can I afford to care for my pet if he or she becomes very ill?”
- What about vacations—where will the dog go?
- And, sure, the kids may want the dog now, but what happens when the novelty wears off? Who steps in and takes over the daily responsibilities?
Make sure you deal with rescues that have the best interests of the dog and the adoptive families in mind.
- Has the dog had medical care completed?
- Will the rescue do a home interview with your family?
- Will you have a trial period with the dog before deciding to adopt?
- What type of support will the rescue offer you should you require it?
Adoption can be the best experience, but it can also be the worst if you haven’t done your homework. Adopting a dog should never be an impulsive decision.