Advertisement

15 things dog shelters need you to know

15 things dog shelters need you to know
Getty Images

Looking for a four-legged friend to complete your family? Rescue dogs can be a good solution; you’re not only giving an animal a home, you don’t have to train a puppy not to chew your shoes and pee on the floor. But when you’re looking for your new best friend, make sure you ask dog shelter staffers and volunteers for guidance.

The people at the shelter know the dogs

The people at the shelter know the dogs
Getty Images

Which dogs like kids? Which need loads of exercise? Which dogs might try to chew your shoes when you go to work? “The shelter workers who provide daily care – feeding, watering, enrichment – assess their behaviour so they are the people who know the animals best,” says executive director of the Nashville Humane Association, Laura Chavarria. Don’t be shy about asking them loads of questions: “They’ll be able to tell you if the animal knows simple commands, is housebroken, would do well with cats, etc. Shelter workers are a wealth of knowledge – just ask!” Chavarria says.

Don’t get your heart set on a pup you see online

Don’t get your heart set on a pup you see online
Getty Images

Looking at rescue pet websites is a great first step – many now have photos, videos and notes about the dogs they have available for adoption. But you won’t really know how you feel about a dog until you meet it in person, so keep an open mind, and plan to find out all you can from the humans you see when you visit. “If the front desk person doesn’t know the dog you’re interested in personally, ask the people who care for and walk them every day – the animal care attendants and volunteers,” says professional dog trainer Trish McMillan.

Be honest with them about your situation

Be honest with them about your situation
LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS/SHUTTERSTOCK

Shelter workers aren’t just trying to make sure you find a dog you love – they’re also trying to avoid a bad match for the dog’s sake. It’s important for them to know if you regularly work very long days, have rowdy kids, or if someone in your house might be allergic, so don’t gloss over anything. “Every animal is perfect in their own right, but not every animal is perfect for every person,” Chavarria says. “If a family comes in with an active lifestyle, our aim is to find them an equally active animal.”

Now you’ve found a furry friend, find out how to keep fleas at bay with these natural home remedies.

Heed their advice, even if it’s discouraging

Heed their advice, even if it’s discouraging
Getty Images

“If you have a house full of cats and the terrier you can’t take your eyes off has injured cats in a previous home, it would probably be best to pick a different pet,” McMillan says. “Or wait for a more cat-friendly terrier to come in.” The shelter workers are just trying to save you and the dog from the heartache of bonding with a pet that isn’t going to fit into your lifestyle.

Here’s what you need to know to get your dog and cat to live happily together.

If you want a lot of choices, look for a high-volume city shelter

If you want a lot of choices, look for a high-volume city shelter
Getty Images

McMillan says many city rescue facilities receive lots of dogs, so they’re good places to meet a wide variety of potential adoptees. “Go on a Friday,” she says. “The most desirable pets are often all adopted over the weekend.” Keep in mind, though, that workers at this type of shelter might not have had as much time to get to know the furry candidates.

Don’t want a dog with a loud bark? Discover the quietest dog breeds.

If you’re not sure what kind of dog you want, consider fostering

If you’re not sure what kind of dog you want, consider fostering
Getty Images

Many shelters and dog rescue operations don’t have space for all the animals they’re caring for, but that’s not the only reason they love having people volunteer to take a dog home temporarily. Some dogs need a little extra care because they’re recovering from an illness or medical procedure, and some show signs of stress while living among all the other animals at the shelter – if someone can take them home for a few days, it’s easier to tell what types of environments will allow them to thrive. So, by fostering, you’re helping out the dog and the shelter while testing your own compatibility with that animal, and your own tolerance level for barking, housetraining and the other stresses of being a dog-parent.

“I’ve lost count of how many animals I’ve fostered,” McMillan says. “It’s certainly more than 100 by now. And in my multi-species, multi-animal home, I’ve found this the best way to get great matches.” She says that when she’s fostered a dog that isn’t a perfect fit, she can help that dog find a new home without any guilt.

If you’re living in an apartment or small house, you may want to find a dog compatible with small spaces.

You can also volunteer at the shelter

You can also volunteer at the shelter
Getty Images

Dog rescue organisations and shelters use volunteers for all sorts of tasks: “Volunteer your time by walking dogs or brushing cats!” Laura Chavarria says. You’ll be helping out and meeting the pets at the same time. Even if you’re not in a position to adopt a dog yet, volunteering at a shelter is a great way to be able to spend time with them and learn about caring for them, while also making their lives better. McMillan says she never realised how much she loves Dobermans before she spent time working with them in shelters, and now she’s had four of them. Chavarria suggests that if you’re looking for ways to help, you can donate towels and bedding, too, but the most important thing you can do is to advocate. “If you have friends and family looking for a new furry family member, direct them to the nearest shelter! The biggest hurdle shelters face is making the public aware that we exist and that we have so many loving animals in need of homes.”

Because you love dogs, check out this cute photo feature of big dogs and little kids.

Dogs are in shelters for lots of reasons

Dogs are in shelters for lots of reasons
Getty Images

Many animals are surrendered to dog shelters by owners who can’t find housing that allows pets. These dogs – many of whom have been house-trained, kept healthy and socialised their whole lives – are often great candidates for new homes. Other dogs have been brought in as strays, and some puppies are handed over after females give birth to unplanned litters. Occasionally, there are dogs that are taken from situations where cruelty or neglect are alleged, and the shelter provides medical and behavioural rehabilitation.

Most shelter dogs aren’t damaged goods

Most shelter dogs aren’t damaged goods
Getty Images

If you go to a shelter expecting to see only sad, abused dogs, you’ll be surprised. McMillan says that three of her current dogs are ‘second-hand’ – one was a stray, one was given up by a previous owner, and one was treated cruelly by an owner who ran a dog-fighting operation (he’s currently in prison). “All three are delightful, friendly, social dogs, who live on the farm peacefully with horses, goats and cats, and help me out in my dog training business,” she says. “I think if you adopt a dog who’s had a less than perfect life, they are the ones who appreciate it the most when you give them a wonderful life with the attention, food, love and training they crave.”

Never miss a deal again - sign up now!

Connect with us: