Adopt a Shelter Dog Month
October is Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog month. You will see all sorts of news stories, blog postings, photo contests and even TV specials about adopting shelter dogs. It’s great to devote a whole month to raising awareness about the importance of adoption and we can’t say enough in support of it. Providing a loving home for a dog (or cat) without one is certainly noble and you will reap rewards from your actions for many years to come.
We’ve adopted four of our dogs, although only one of them (Jack) was from a “shelter”. Tino we rescued from the streets and Becca and Maggie were in foster care with a breed rescue. While it’s great to have an Adopt-a-SHELTER-Dog month, one of the points I wanted to make with this post is that it doesn’t matter if the dog is in a shelter, with a rescue, in foster care or even in a pet store or on Craig’s list…if a dog needs a loving home, they should get one. I know some of you will freak that I mention Craig’s list or pet stores as a source, but let me be clear, I don’t support the likely source of the dogs found in those situations, but I do support giving the innocent dogs a loving home.
We are all aware of the potential problems with going outside the normal channels of a physical shelter or a recognized rescue organization. You may be inadvertently supporting puppy mills and irresponsible backyard breeders. Most puppy mill breeders sell their dogs through Craig’s list or through pet stores, where they can be invisible. A responsible breeder of a pure-bred dog will put YOU through a screening process in order to ensure that you are a suitable pet parent who will provide proper care, nutrition and love through the life of their dog they are entrusting to your care. A pet store and many Craig’s List sellers just want to sell the dog and pocket the money they make. We’ve written about disturbing pet sales we’ve seen on Craig’s List in the past. While I abhor the practice and don’t support those sources myself, the dogs they are selling are innocents and should not be left to suffer. Yes, they may eventually end up in a shelter, but they may not.
Last year, a friend’s daughter bought a dog at a pet store – a cute little 9 week old chocolate Lab. By the time they reached out to me for advice, the dog was 6 months old and wreaking havoc on her daughter’s pocketbook and social life and she was facing eviction. We learned that the pup, who came from Missouri (red flag #1) had already been returned to the pet store after it’s initial sale (red flag #2). They GAVE her the dog saying they couldn’t sell it twice (huh? red flag #3). Over the course of just a few months, he developed severe skin problem which turned out to be sarcoptic mange. He also had stomach issues and infections that required medication. Between the medication for the mange, the stomach problems and normal puppy vet visits, it was costing her more money than any college student had to care for him properly. Her roommates were tired of caring for him while she was in class and were threatening to kick her out. She didn’t know what to do. I never thought I would recommend giving a dog up to a rescue, but I did in this case. She had bitten off way more than she could chew, but it sure wasn’t the fault of that sweet dog who deserved a safe, secure and loving home.
There are many naive and ill-informed folks out there adopting dogs from pet stores or looking for dogs on the internet. I think one of our responsibilities as smart pet owners is to make others aware so we can put an end to the unscrupulous pet sellers. We (and I mean most of you reading this post) are SO cognizant of these issues, we forget that most ordinary citizens are unaware of the story and source behind these sellers.
I’m sure we all have horror stories of encountering a dog with a bad start in life – SlimDoggy Jack would fit that bill too – but every single one of them deserves a home. So don’t limit your adoption search to a shelter, breed rescues are an excellent source and as long as you lower your expectations about the health of the dog you can always open your heart and your home to a needy dog you found on the internet.