Each year 3 to 4 million animals fill the nation’s shelters awaiting adoption, and sadly, many are euthanized. To draw attention to this problem and to help ease the burden on already crowded shelters, the American Humane Society has named October Adopt-a-Dog Month.
If you are considering opening your home and your heart to a dog in need, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
Shelters Need Your Help
If you’re considering adopting a dog, remember that shelters rely on people like yourself to help give the animals they care for a forever home. Also, shelter animals often have received basic medical care like immunizations and sterilization (spaying/neutering). Many have been leash-trained, socialized, and have some idea of house manners.
Consider a “Hard to Adopt” Pet
Some pets have a hard time finding forever homes. These include senior and special needs dogs. Many of these animals are unfortunately euthanized because shelters are overburdened and need to open space for new intakes. if you feel you are able to make the commitment to a hard to adopt pet, such adoptions can be very rewarding experiences.
Note: Special needs can mean something different to each animal—and some senior dogs and dogs with special needs may require little-to-no additional care than their healthy counterparts. And they will often return the love they’re given tenfold.
Dog-Proof Your Home
once you are sure you and your family are ready to adopt, you should prep your home for the new arrival. That means removing any obvious hazards that might be tempting to a dog—such as loose electrical wires (puppies are chewers), toxic plants, and choking hazards. Also, store any cleansers or medications out of a dog’s reach.
Preparing for the Expense of Pet Ownership
Dog ownership is a responsibility and does come with some costs. If this is your first dog adoption, be prepared to spend between $1000 and $1200 during the first year and about $500 annually, thereafter. Initial costs include food and water bowls, a collar, a leash, a dog bed, and ID tags. Ongoing expenses include food, veterinary care, toys, and treats.
Basic Dog Care
Remember that the responsibilities of dog ownership don’t just include food and walks—it also includes regular grooming, bathing, and dental care, and cleaning up after your pet. If you are housebreaking a puppy, you may also want to invest in a crate. Dogs are naturally den animals and don’t like to defecate or urinate where they sleep. So, crating a dog overnight can help establish a house-training regimen.
Find a Good Veterinarian
Veterinary care is essential to your pet’s health. Semi-annual well-pet visits are recommended to ensure early detection of health problems that may arise. Your vet is also a great resource when you need recommendations on pet foods, boarding, and training. Be sure to ask your vet to microchip your pet in the event of loss. Microchipped pets are far more likely to be reunited with their owners than are their non-chipped counterparts.
Although Adopt-A-Dog Month is only observed in October, its pet rescue and adoption message can be applied throughout the year. While the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Pet Product Association (APPA) report an increase in dogs being adopted from shelters, there are still millions of pets living in shelters. We hope these tips will help provide you with valuable information for welcoming a shelter pet into your home.
Cecily Kellogg is a pet lover who definitely has crazy cat lady leanings. Her pets are all shelter rescues, including the dog, who is scared of the cats. She spent eight years working as a Veterinary Technician before becoming a writer. Today she writes all over the web, including here at Figo.