Millions of dogs across the world are euthanized every year because there is nobody willing to take them home. These are mostly loving, sweet dogs who have no idea why they are stuck in a cage, and no idea that they’re doomed to die for lack of love. With shelters and rescue centres overfilling with dogs and other animals needing loving homes, many dog lovers argue that adopting a dog is simply the only ethical option.
Adopting a dog is not a simple process of going to the centre and picking the dog you like. Any responsible rescue centre or shelter will work hard to assess your suitability as a dog owner, and match you to a dog that will fit into your home. Rather than see this as an obstacle, understand that this is a necessary procedure, and if you don’t pass the assessments, there’s a good chance you aren’t ready to own a dog at all.
Regardless of the assessment you need to undergo in order to adopt a dog, the final result is absolutely worth it. Some people worry that, by adopting a dog, you are taking on a damaged animal that is likely to have behavioural issues. If you are not prepared for a dog with behavioural issues, the rescue centre will not match you with one. They will find you a dog that is suitable for you. The vast majority of dogs that come into rescue do so simply because their previous owners were not able to look after them, and so they are there through no fault of their own.
You may be unwilling to consider a rescue dog as you have your heart set on a puppy. Consider this for a second, though. A puppy is very hard work. They require thorough training and round the clock care and attention. If you think you’re up to that challenge, then great! There are plenty of puppies that come into rescue, those who have been abandoned by callous owners, or those who have been born in the shelter because their mother was taken in. So don’t let that stop you rescuing!
Furthermore, if you take on a rescue dog who is not a puppy, there are certain benefits. It is likely that your dog will already be housetrained. They will also be appropriately matched in terms of individual personality and suitability for your home, an assurance that you simply do not get when you buy a puppy from a breeder. Rescue centres also almost always neuter, inoculate and microchip dogs prior to adoption, which will save you a fortune in start-up costs! And whilst we are on the subject of costs, it costs significantly less to adopt a dog from a rescue centre than to pay top whack for a puppy from a breeder. Also, don’t be so hasty to decide on one particular breed, or to rule out others. You could be missing out on the perfect pet for you.
Before you decide to take on the responsibility of dog ownership, rescue or otherwise, there are a few questions that you need to truly answer first:
- Does your life have structure and routine?
- Who is going to walk the dog, feed him, and take him to the vet?
- Can you afford dog insurance, food and vet fees?
- Is everyone in your home happy to have a dog?
- Are you prepared for the responsibility of setting appropriate rules, boundaries and limitations for your dog and for yourself and family?
- What is your work life like? Is this likely to change?
- How much time do you have for a dog? Is this likely to change?
If you can answer all these questions with positive answers, then – congratulations – dog ownership may be right for you!
Take an active interest in finding your new best friend. Consider every aspect and work with the rescue centres in your area to help make the best choice for both you and your dog. After all, it’s a lifetime commitment, and all dogs deserve a loving home.