I try to keep my blog light and funny, but always honest. This time, I thought I’d dig a little deeper into the rescue dog world. I am very passionate about what I do, and the dogs and people I help. It is extremely heartbreaking when people tell you that they support you and believe in what you are doing, and then not take any action. I do a lot of different things at work etc. to raise money and gather donations for my shelter. So many people graciously donate and comment on how they think what I am doing is so amazing (which is great don’t get me wrong). Then when it comes time to get there own pet they end up going to an expensive breeder or pet store instead of trying to adopt a rescue dog. I try not to say anything as I’ve always be afraid of upsetting or offending people. But it just eats away at me inside because I feel like no matter what I do, people just don’t get it. There is no need to spend all of your hard earned money on an expensive dog from a breeder or pet store when there are literally hundreds upon thousands of dogs out there that need homes.
I hear the same thing over and over again ” I don’t know how you do it.” or “I could never do what you do.” “I would take every dog home with me!” (which is just silly). “I would cry the whole time I was at the shelter!” I guess everyone is different, so my goal is not to judge people, it is to inform. Taking all the dogs home with you would not be a good situation for you or the dogs. All dogs deserve a home in which they get all the attention and love that they need and deserve. If you have 10 dogs and are at your wits end, its obviously not a good situation for anyone involved. As for the crying, I’m not going to lie to you and say I’ve never cried at the shelter. I’d have to be inhuman. There is definitely an adjustment period when you first start at any shelter. You see things you have only heard about and it’s totally different seeing them with your own eyes. But, once you start witnessing the positive changes that you are helping to make, it is all worth it. When I’m at the shelter, I am very focused on what needs to be done to make things better. There isn’t time to stop and cry. There are animals that need your attention, and people waiting to adopt them. Its time to get to work.
I think one of the systemic problems with animal adoption is that people are uneducated. I don’t think they know what it is to actually rescue or adopt an animal as your pet. I don’t blame them, you don’t know what you don’t know. Adopting has completely changed my life and I know it has changed countless others. When people come into the shelter to look at the dogs, the first question I ask is “Have you ever adopted from us before?” I need to gage what kind of information they need in order to make it a positive experience. The last thing I would want is for them to come to a shelter for the first time and have a bad experience; therefore never wanting to adopt a shelter dog again.
After my 12 years of experience in animal rescue, I have narrowed down the most common reasons and excuses that I hear from people who do not want to adopt. Here are my Top 3 Most Common Myths about Adopting a Shelter Pet:
- Shelter pets are broken beyond repair
- Shelter pets have health problems and won’t live long
- You will not find the kind of dog you want at a shelter
Let’s start with the fact that shelter pets are NOT broken beyond repair. The fact is no matter where you get your pet, NONE of them are perfect. Thinking that if you pay more money to buy one from a pet store or breeder will get you the perfect pet is just laughable. I know many dog owners that have bought dogs, and they have more issues than most of the dogs I see at the shelter. I do want to be completely transparent however, and there are some cases when adopting a dog can require more patience and attention. If you rescue a puppy mill survivor or an abused animal, then of course there is going to be more of a commitment. But even in those cases, I have heard the most beautiful transformation stories from owners. In the end the owners end up feeling even closer and more thankful than ever for their pet. Also, dogs know when you have rescued them from a bad situation, and they will love you even harder for it. My job at the shelter is with the behavior and training department. I am responsible for identifying behaviors in a dog that aren’t ideal for potential adopters (ie. jumping, excessive barking, fearfulness, resource guarding). I have 12 years of experience training shelter dogs, and it is possible for all of them to be amazing pets.
Now let’s talk about perhaps the most worrisome for potential adopters, the fact that they think shelter dogs always have health problems and won’t live long. The truth of the matter is you NEVER know if an animal is going to develop some kind of health issue, just like you don’t know if a person will. Shelters rescue animals, so sometimes they aren’t in the best of conditions when we bring them in. But like people, they see a Dr. and are given whatever treatment is needed. Like people some of them fully recover and some of them don’t. There are some special people out there that are willing to take on a dog with medical issues. If you are not one of those people than that is ok. I know with my schedule at this time, that I could not care for an animal that needs around the clock medical care, and again, that’s ok. I have also seen miraculous recoveries from dogs that we didn’t think would make it. Setting these extreme cases aside, most of the time we adopt out happy go lucky healthy pets. I have seen people come in and adopt a 10 year old dog that ended up living for 6 or 7 more years! There are people that buy a dog from a breeder or pet store and that dog ends up having serious medical issues (unfortunately a lot of them end up at shelters). The point is you just never know, life is life.
I saved the worst for last, how often do you hear that tactic? People think that they wont be able to find the exact dog that they want at a shelter. This bothers me for so many reasons. As a society I think we focus way too much on appearance and perceptions. Of course you want to make sure that you have a dog that fits into your life. If you are unable to be active, you don’t want to adopt a dog that needs to go for 2 mile walks everyday. I just don’t understand why we are so focused on looks and breeding. If you walk into a shelter you never know what kind of dogs you may find. One of them might just be the perfect match that you didn’t know was out there. We have mixes (or designer dogs as we call them), and people’s beloved purebreds. Some people use allergies as an excuse, and the ugly truth is NO dog is completely hypo allergenic. If a breeder or pet store ever tells you that, it’s a complete lie. Teddy doesn’t shed like dogs with fur, he has hair. He sheds like humans do, and if you are a woman especially, you know we shed quite a bit. His hair doesn’t seem to bother people with allergies, but I can’t promise that. I think society is just so focused on appearances, regarding both people and animals. Every person and every dog is perfect in their own way. Let’s stop stressing out about color, size, and breed. The world would be a much better place if we just accepted people and animals the way they are.
I hesitated to write a blog like this, but I learned something very important recently. People are going to judge you no matter what. They will judge you if you keep your head down and do nothing. They will judge you if you try to go out and change the world. So why not be judged standing up for what you believe in, especially if it is your truth. I believe in what I am doing and I feel like I can make a difference in this world. I’m ready to commit to what I believe in and never look back…are you?
As always, thank you for reading! I would love to hear your comments on this blog in particular. Reminder, you can follow me on Instagram @singldogmom for more stories and behind the scenes at the shelter. Also, if you ever have any questions regarding some behaviors you see in your own dog I would be happy to offer advice. There are exciting things in the works here on the Single Dog Mom website, so please stick with me. I promise it will be worth your while!
Pup of the Week:
I could NOT resist posting this beautiful creature. Just look at Lucky. He is 11 years old and looks O so sad. He would love to find his furever retirement home!
Our friend Grant from last week’s blog looks like he was adopted! He was still there when I was working my shift on Thursday night, and I could tell he was getting sick of being in his kennel. I’ll have to find out more details so I can let you all know. He was such a beautiful boy!