Alrighty folks, here are 10 REAL ADVANTAGES to adopting your next dog from a shelter. Not things like, “Because there are so many dogs in need.” or, “Because petting dogs lowers your blood pressure.” NO. While these things are true, they are just reasons to get a dog. Which if you’re here, you’ve probably already decided you want to do. What follows will be reasons that it is advantageous for you to adopt your next dog from a shelter.
1. It’s affordable.
When you buy a dog from a breeder, they have a goal to make money off of their puppies. This makes sense because good breeders have to put a lot of time, effort, and money into a litter of pups, but it sure can get expensive. Generally a professionally bred pup (even mixes!) will require you to shell out $300-$1000+ depending on breed, pedigree, and the individual breeder’s policies. Humane societies’ adoption fees usually average $50-$150, dependent on age and sometimes vet costs or spay/neuter status. Generally, puppies will have an up-charge and seniors will be discounted. Some shelters that specialize in certain breeds or that include more pre-adoption services (see point #5 below) such as administering the spay/neuter or perhaps a microchip and further vet care may be a little more expensive, from $150-$300.
2. You have a really good chance of adopting a dog that has been previously trained.
Lots of dogs in shelters used to be awesome family pets, until something happened and it just didn’t work out for the family any more. =/ Depending on the dog’s age and history, your pooch may already be trained to behave itself in a home environment. (Even if they have a few accidents when you bring them home they may just need a quick crash course to freshen up their previous training after being in a kennel so long.) It may even know some commands like sit, shake, and down. Sometimes the shelter staff has even taught the dog a few of these things.
3. You CAN find purebred dogs in shelters.
They aren’t all mutts, (though those have great advantages too).
4. You can find just about ANY thing in shelter.
There is a huge variety and shelters are always getting new animals in to choose from. Old, young, every color, size, breed, combination, etc. You can usually find it in a shelter. When you know you’re ready to adopt a dog, it’s so much fun to explore local shelters and see the great variety of dogs you may not have even considered as your perfect match.
5. Discounts on vet care.
A lot of shelters have standard health procedures all dogs are required to go through before being adopted, and others provide a coupon or discount on things like spays and neuters and other vet needs. Anything from the sterilization, heartworm testing, microchipping, annual vaccines, and sometimes even a collar and tag or bag of food could be included in the adoption fee, or discounted with a coupon from the shelter. A common practice is to refund a portion of the adoption fee if you bring your dog back with proof of sterilization as an incentive to increase spays and neuters.
6. The staff will probably have some helpful insider information on the dog’s personality.
Since they work with the animals daily, they can help you if you’re wondering about how social a certain dog is, whether it tolerates cats or other dogs, is food-aggressive, and more questions about its general disposition. Often times multiple dogs will be kept in the same kennel, which helps if you know they are friendly to other dogs, especially if you’re looking for a second (or third, etc. =D) dog to add to your family. (Looking to adopt more than one? Lots of bonded pairs show up in shelters!) Please keep in mind though that dogs DO act differently in shelters than they will in your home. A shelter is a high-tension environment and some dogs react to that by clamming up or lashing out. Dogs that may be described by staff as an “only dog” may be really friendly once they have time to adjust to the love and leadership of a family and not having to fight strange dogs for top position and space. Like wise, dogs that seem calm and timid in a shelter could bloom into boisterous, playful dogs once they get to a more comfortable environment. The next two points have solutions to this “alter ego” identity crisis.
7. Lots of shelters have foster programs, as well as foster-to-adopt.
This can really help if a) you aren’t sure you’re ready for a dog, or b) you already have one and want to make sure you get the right match for your current canine(s).
8. You can volunteer at the shelter!
This means you can get to know the animals you are interested in adopting personally, while helping out the caring (and likely over-worked) staff. Often times shelters won’t even ask you to do the “hard” stuff like cleaning out kennels, and are just happy to have someone to walk the dogs and play with them. One time I volunteered and when I asked what I could do to help I was told sweetly, “Well, you can play with the puppies.” I had to ask several times before they actually “put me to work” on anything gross, so it’s really a great no-pressure way to get to know you’re candidates for adoption.
9. Cat-friendly and kid-friendly dogs are often noted on their kennels, and often the staff will be able to point these ones out to you when you ask.
This can make your search more streamlined as these dogs usually have either come from a home with cats or kids or have shown a fantastic disposition toward the critters through their shelter experience.
10. Shelters have SALES and SPONSORSHIPS.
When we saw our cute little black-and-white dog and decided he was the one, the shelter’s manager informed that there was sweet man who frequented the shelter and had a soft spot for that particular dog, as he walked him a lot and helped leash-train him. “I bet I can get him to sponsor that dog if you guys want him.” she said. ZING! Is that a sign or what? Well, I felt like it was anyway. Shelters also have discounts and run specials on their prices around holidays, and at random times throughout the year. Sometimes it is a broad, “All adoptions this weekend are 50% off!” and sometimes a more specific deal, such as an adopt-one-get-another-one-free deal with cats, or a discount on all black dogs, all big dogs, all little dogs, etc. Sometimes they will even try to adopt out a breed for which they have a great surplus. (Pitbulls are pretty common candidates for this type of sale, as are labs and lab mixes, and Chihuahuas.)
In summary, adopting a dog from a shelter or humane society or rescue:
- usually is much more economical
- gives you ways to get to a know a dog before you take it hoe
- means it may already come with some of the training they need to fit right in to your family
- allows you to have a huge variety to choose from
There you go. No-bull reasons that second-hand shelter dogs may be a better choice for you. =)
So why are dogs in shelters in the first place?
It’s almost never the dog’s fault. Somehow we have associated words like “pound” and “shelter” and “humane society” with words referring to a place someone goes when it’s messed up. Like “correctional facility” and “rehab” and “prison.” But what did the dog do to get there? Granted, in today’s society there is a shift moving towards associating these facilities with words like “Rescue” and “Adoption” which are words filled with hope and a second chance. But even a second chance assumes the poor creature did something to mess up its first one.
Well, the truth is that God gave us dominion over animals. They are our responsibility to care for and “rule” over or manage. (See Genesis 1:26-28, and 2:15.)And when we domesticate a creature, we enter into an even deeper level of responsibility for it, because we have taken away their right to fend for themselves. We teach them a new way to live so that they fit into our world, as we well should do. But not everyone takes these responsibilities seriously, and that is one major reason a dog will go to a pound. It simply hasn’t been taught how to live in its world. Sometimes that’s a lack of training, other times a lack of a world to learn about like in the case of dogs that are kept as lawn ornaments on chains without any social interaction. Others have owners willing to train them, but unprepared to do so. So even the “bad” dogs are simply a product of good or bad training.
Now… if you want the mushy gooey reasons to adopt I can go on and on…..
- Adopting from a shelter saves a dog from either life in the shelter or euthanasia.
- If you are adopting from a no-kill shelter it opens a new spot up for a SECOND dog to get another shot at life.
- When people ask where you got such a wonderful pup you can proudly tell them, “I rescued him (or her) from an animal shelter.” and you can help defeat the unfortunate blaming of shelter dogs for their imprisonment, and renew hope that they are actually really good dogs.
- When you bring that dog home and give it a bath, (one disadvantage…. they may be stinky on that first car ride home, hehe.) fill up it’s tummy and then it falls asleep with its head on your lap, so peaceful? Right in the feels. Dogs are so gracefully grateful.
- Petting a dog DOES lower your heart rate. 😉
I hope that this has helped you in your new exciting journey to your next (or first!) dog, and that you are blessed with the perfect new best friend for you and your family.