Whether you are a dog person, cat, bunny, or guinea pig person, your local animal shelter has lots of furry friends who deserve a loving home. This time of year, the shelters are teaming with unwanted Christmas puppies and kittens that are abandoned when their novelty wears off. Use these tips, and go pay a visit. Walk some dogs. Play with some cats. This is a great volunteer activity to do with your whether you are looking for a new pet or not. The animals will sure appreciate some extra love.
It’s a common assumption that the animals at the “pound” are someone’s rejects, and that adopting from a place like this will only buy you someone else’s problem. That’s just not true. Sure, there are going to be animals that have challenging behaviors, and may not be the best fit for your home. The majority of animals there, though, are loving, smart, and playful and could make a great addition to your family.
Tips for Adopting a Fur Baby
Here are some tips to make sure that you get the animal that is right for you. Basically, it comes down to observing the animal in a variety of environments and circumstances:
- Stand in front of their cage. Are they biting the bars? Hiding in the corner? Look for an animal that is happy, but calm, and interested in YOU!
- Take the animal outside on a leash. Do they pull you over, or cower behind you? Is their tail wagging, or tucked between their legs? Do they respond to your voice, or are they oblivious to you?
- Play with the animal off leash. Do they jump on you, or nip when playing? How do they react to your kids off leash? Do they push them over or scare them?
- Walk the animal near other animals. Do this cautiously and have two firm hands on the leash, but leave some slack. How do they react? Does the hair on their back stand up? Any growling, or lunging?
- Test the animal with food, and chew toys. Do this cautiously, using a stick to remove the item from the animal. Are they possessive about food, or toys, growling when you take the item away? Can you touch them when they are eating?
- What happens when you put the animal back in their cage? Do they get overly upset and whine or claw at the cage?
- Realize that most behaviors, positive and negative, are a result of training or lack thereof.
There are many benefits to consider when you adopt from the local “pound.” Almost all of the shelters make sure that the animal is up to date on shots. They make sure that the animal is spayed or neutered before they leave the shelter, in most cases. Often, you will even get a free vet visit after adopting the pet. Many shelters will insert a tracking microchip in the animal so that in case they become lost, you will have a better chance of finding them!
With Bailey, we even got one month of pet insurance for free, just in case she develops a medical issue! All of these perks would cost you hundreds. Adoption from local shelter ranges in price from $25 to $150, depending on where you go. For Bailey, our total cost was a grand total of about $50! BEST DEAL EVER!
Case in Point, Our Adopted Fur Baby
Here’s Bailey. We adopted her from the Stark County Humane Society about a week ago. She’s a gorgeous black lab mix, a little over a year old.
When I first saw Bailey, most of the other dogs were barking their heads off, and jumping all over their cages, being crazy. It was deafening. Being in this environment is incredibly stressful for animals, despite the best efforts of staff. This results in the animals displaying a variety of maladaptive behaviors that may not be evident when the animal is not stressed under normal circumstances. When stressed, you have a window into the animal’s personality in the worst circumstances, and that’s a good thing to know.
While the other dogs were showing a variety of maladaptive behaviors like biting their cages, or barking at people walking by, Bailey sat their calmly at the front of her cage, quiet as can be, wagging her tail. Instantly, I knew this dog was for us, but I spent several hours putting her through a series of tests to make sure that we were right for each other.
Bailey’s paperwork says she was returned to the SCHS for not being housebroken. Having had all sorts of animals, I know that housebreaking issues are almost always a result of training, behavior or medical issues, like the animal having a urinary tract infection. These are solvable problems whether it’s a cat or dog causing the issue.
Having trained several dogs, we’ve developed a great system for housebreaking. We put a bell on the door knob, and use the bell each time we take the dog out. Within a day or two, housebreaking is complete, and even in the middle of the night when the dog needs out, we will hear their signal, and prevent accidents. I was confident we could help her overcome her housebreaking issue.
Bailey did have a couple of accidents while I was getting to know her at the shelter, but her personality could not have shown brighter. She was calm, submissive, playful, smart, and by all appearances, healthy. After getting to know her, I placed a hold on her and brought my kids and husband back to meet her. We all agreed, this was the dog for us!
After bringing Bailey home, it was clear she was a great fit, though she did have several accidents on her first day. Twelve hours was all it took to train her to do her business outside, and she has not had an accident since! I just can’t imagine giving up a dog this great, for an issue that was so easily fixed. Whatever her circumstances, we are all thrilled that they led her to us, and she’s become a treasured member of our little pack.
Here are some links to local shelters that are full to the brink of animals that need your help. We can’t thank the staff at the Stark County Humane Society enough for introducing us to Bailey. Go find your new best friend today!