Purebred or mutt, insuring that the new dog fits your family BEFORE purchase will help solve shelter problems by preventing family stress.
A DOG IS FOREVER A FAMILY MEMBER
Owner retention problems and family stress over the pet cause shelter over-population – both are preventable.
First, let's recognize that the tired old spay/neuter/adopt approach to the perceived threat of animal overpopulation hasn't worked. If it had, HSUS and the multitudes of rescue groups would have long since been out of business.
The main problem isn't over-population, it is owner retention and that alone would eliminate any need for importing puppies in order to supply the animal shelters.
If there was truly an overpopulation problem there would be no need to import, literally, thousands of dogs from Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Eastern Europe to fill the need for "adoptable" puppies.
So why don't we, as dog people, create a campaign for owner retention? Something that would entail owner education in a way that would not be like a lecture but more like family fun?
Before You Choose A Shelter Dog Or A Specific Breed
Discuss and decide on things like size, coat care, and male or female, think about how a dog will impact your life. This dog, like any other family member, is for life. That is a commitment for 10 to 15 years. Once you decide you are ready to add a new family member, then think about who will be the primary caretaker. How will that person manage the dog? Where will it go to the bathroom? Who will exercise the dog?
Do you have a fenced yard? You might seriously want to consider whether you are willing to take a walk four times or more a day in every kind of weather. No, you can't just open the door and let the puppy out to potty. As a friend of mine says "a loose dog is a dead dog, it is just a matter of time". Puppy pads simply teach a dog to use the house as a bathroom. If I didn't have a securely fenced yard I, personally, would not get a dog. A dog needs time and space to exercise, relax, sunbathe. They need a safe place to play and simply be a dog.
Decide on rules for the new dog. Will it be allowed on the furniture or not? Where will it sleep? Where will its food and water bowls be located? Will it be allowed to jump up on people? Who will be responsible for training? What will the new dog eat? Speaking of eating, who will clean up his poop? And how will it be disposed of?
Knowing all the rules and responsibilities as well as the joys of animal ownership makes the relationship work. If family circumstances change, the dog or dogs are to be considered in the move just like any other family member.
If a landlord doesn't allow children and you have children, you don't move there, likewise the dog. In the mad push to adopt, many people think the shelters have good homes for dogs but more than likely they do not. When life throws you a curve, don’t even think about dumping your family member at the shelter. The overwhelming majority of dogs surrendered to public shelters will be destroyed.
Many so called rescues are simply hoarders. Many are very good. Often it is difficult to tell the difference. Many are money oriented and are very high grossing businesses and equally as worrisome, many more are simply a different type of disposal facility. One thing about animal rescues is that they almost universally talk a good game.
I get suspicious when a "rescue" always has a ready supply of cute fuzzy toy breed puppies available. What happens to the teenagers or the older dogs?
When choosing your new family member, talk to the kennel owner or the shelter manager. See how the dogs are kept and what the motivation is behind selling the dogs. Is it primarily for money or is it a hobby that is carried out with love and knowledge of the breed?
Has Your New Family Pet Been Health Checked?
If he's a purebred dog, can you get the health record? What type of guarantees are offered? Does the seller own the dam and/or sire of the puppies? Were they born at the seller's home? The dogs should look clean and be bright eyed and shiny. They should be wagging, glad you came. The condition of the dogs is an indicator of the care taken of them.
That is why you should visit the breeder if at all possible, but being conscious of their busy schedules. Many breeders won't allow you to visit while the puppies are small and unvaccinated. This is not only for health reasons but because it upsets the mother dog.
Remember most good breeders house their dogs in and around their homes. A dog breeder's home is unlike a store. Respect their privacy. Usually there are not public restrooms so empty the family before arriving. Keep children, if any, with you and do not touch any dogs without asking.
You can’t choose family but you can choose your friends. Choose this one carefully and realistically and you will never be sorry.
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