If you want to get a dog, adopting a pet from your local shelter is one of the most responsible and animal-friendly ways to do it. Shelter dogs need homes, but they sometimes have the stereotype of being problem animals - how else could they have ended up at the shelter?
However, many typical dogs land in shelters through no fault of their own, and they make excellent pets. Dogs from shelters are often less costly than breeder-produced pups, and they might even be healthier. If you do decide to adopt from a shelter, make sure you are ready. Take these steps to prepare.
Find a Vet Before You Adopt
Your first step should be to find a vet in your area to care for your future dog. All dogs need medical care at some point, and many rescues and shelters require a veterinary reference for interested adoptive families. A vet reference lets the shelter know that you are a caring owner who will properly provide for your dog.
If possible, you might even have your vet check the dog that you want to adopt to make sure that it is healthy - unless of course, you are prepared and expect to handle the needs of a dog that is sick or injured.
Budget for Expenses
Many people think that a dog from the shelter is a budget option, and it is when it comes to the purchase price. However, too many eager owners underestimate the cost of responsible dog ownership. On average, a dog will cost just over $1200 during the first year of ownership.
When you get the dog from the shelter, get a history of vaccines and flea treatments, and prepare to take the dog to the vet to get the necessary updates. Some dogs require regular professional grooming, so that expense should also be planned in your budget.
Finally, you also need to consider spaying or neutering the dog you adopt. Not only is this better for the health (and often the temperament) of the dog, but it also protects your pet against some chronic medical conditions.
When you choose to spay or neuter your pet, you actively prevent accidental litters of puppies - these puppies often end up in shelters. You might think that you want puppies, but breeding puppies is a big job, and when done incorrectly, the puppies grow into dogs that have behavioral or health problems.
Many shelters require you to sign a contract promising to spay or neuter the dog you adopt, or they might require you to pay for the surgery as part of the adoption fee.
License Your Dog With Your Local Municipality
When you bring your dog home, take the time to visit your town hall to get a pet license. This is not only the law but also ensures that animal control agencies will know how to contact you if your dog wanders off. A microchip can be proof of licensing, and unlike tags, a microchip will not break or get lost.
Get Breed and Age Information From Your Vet
After the adoption, make sure you confirm the age and breed of your dog with your vet. Some shelters might not know what type of dog you have, and sometimes it can be hard to tell. However, if you know the breed, you can prepare for common health problems that come with certain types of dogs.
If you know your dog's age, you can also prepare for your dog's future. If they are a young dog, then you know you have at least a decade of commitment ahead of you. For older dogs, you have fewer years, but you might need to have a higher care budget in case your dog needs special care as they age.
For more information, contact us at Family Pet Clinic.