Disney left a life-long impression on me
when, as a youngster, I viewed the dog pound scene in
Lady and the Tramp. Mournful mutts howled out a pitiful
rendition of Home Sweet Home, which nobody but the most
callous could sit through dry-eyed. The pound was portrayed
as a cruel place manned by heartless dog-catchers. I vowed
never to step foot in one, not even to save the life of
one of the rejected creatures. Adopting a pet under such
sad conditions would certainly place a cloud over the
day. Could I ever leave completely happy with the dog
I chose, knowing that dozens were left behind in misery?
My answer today is a resounding YES! From
personal experience I have learned that animal shelters
can indeed be the very best place to find your companion.
As a volunteer in college I found that humane societies
and animal shelters can be places of compassion, and the
animals, while lonely, are happy, healthy, and not nearly
as desperate as Disney made them out to be.
There are plenty of good reasons for bringing
a dog home from the pound. In this article Ill discuss
just a few of them.
Typically, when a family decides to adopt
a dog, they check the pet store, the newspaper, and maybe
the neighborhood for a puppy. More often than not, this
spells disaster. While unarguably cute, puppies are not
for everyone. Puppies, no matter what breed, take lots
of time, money, and patience. Unless you are prepared
to deal with urine spots on the carpet, sleepless nights,
and hundreds of dollars in pet-related equipment and veterinarian
bills (not to mention replacing chewed up clothing), you
are not prepared for a puppy! In fact, this is the very
reason animal shelters are filled to capacity. Puppies
grow up fast and their newness wears off, and all too
many owners find themselves too frazzled to continue.
Thus, Fido ends up behind bars for no fault of his own.
The vast majority of dogs in shelters are there because
people werent thinking about the time, effort, and money
involved in raising a dog. (Other common reasons are families
relocating, owners deaths, or divorces that leave a dog
in the mix.)
Think twice before bringing home a pup.
An older dog is calmer, will pick up housetraining (and
other obedience training) faster, and have outgrown the
frustrating chew stage. Perhaps the best thing of all
is that they are more predictable; what you see is what
you get. With adult dogs the size, shape, skills, and
temperament have already been determined. Depending on
the shelter, they may even have a pet history!
Another reason to avoid pet-finding in pet
stores and newspapers is that these places are largely
supplied by backyard breeders and puppy mills, notorious
for breeding unhealthy animals in inhumane conditions.
The best way to shut down these operations is to avoid
supporting them. While they may boast purebreds for low
prices, a mixed breed mutt has much lower incidence of
health defects than poorly bred purebreds. (Adoption days
at places like PetSmart are run by shelters, and not supplied
by puppy mills. Furthermore, most shelters now have web
sites so you can start your dog search on-line. Petfinder.org
lists dogs by specific breeds, a great tool if you know
what you are looking for!)
Cost is also another reason that shelter
dogs come out on top. For a nominal fee, you bring home
a dog that is up-to-date on vaccinations, has had a general
health exam, and has been sterilized. Often the fee may
include the cost of microchipping and licensing. Sometimes
you even score coupons for free food and equipment on
Adoption Days! Keep in mind that no dog is ever free.
You should always have a new pet checked by a veterinarian
to avoid the spread of disease. Having your pet spayed
or neutered is a pet-owners responsibility not to be
postponed. Heartworm treatments, chew toys, and other
necessary equipment add up. Its hard to beat the all-inclusive
fee offered by a shelter.
But perhaps the best reason to adopt a shelter
dog is the values it teaches your children. Bring home
an older dog, and you send the message that all creatures
have intrinsic worth, not just the cute babies. Giving
a dog a second home teaches another fabulous lesson, and
dogs who have suffered losses often bond faster to their
new people, eager to belong again. Children appreciate
knowing about second chances. Finally, when you bring
home a shelter dog you save the life of a dog whose only
alternative may be euthanasia. 60% of animals placed in
shelters meet this fate. By including children in this
important decision-making process, making careful choices,
and being a responsible pet owner, you teach children
the best lesson of all.
About the Author
Emma Snow an animal lover works in marketing for Dog Pound
and Horse Stall http://www.horse-stall.net
leading portals for pet management.