National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day is observed on April 30th and is dedicated to raising awareness to the countless number of shelter animals awaiting their forever homes across the country. Adopting an animal will not only provide him or her with a loving home but can also give you additional meaning to your life. The common expression “Who rescued who?” exists for good reason.
Waiting For Forever Homes
Aside from just waiting for their forever homes, shelter animals are in dire need of homes. It is estimated approximately 6.5 million companion animals find themselves in U.S. shelters every year, and 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized annually.
People may adopt shelter animals with the best intentions but later return them for many reasons; others may lack patience or have unrealistic expectations and return the animal. The most common reasons for returning a shelter animal include:
- Unexpected costs
- Human health issues
- Destructive behaviors
- Aggression (with children, family members or pets)
It is important to understand that not all adoption stories have happy endings. Even if a responsible adopter proceeds with caution, Petful.com explains, “not every adoption is a match made in heaven, and sometimes returning a pet to the shelter is the only option an adopter has.”
Prepare To Love and Be Loved
To have a successful adoption experience, it is necessary that you are properly prepared–mentally, physically, and financially–to welcome a new member into your home.
- It is essential that you can afford a dog. This includes food, veterinary costs, and other supplies such as leashes, collars, bedding, treats, toys, ID tags, and any additional costs, which may include training classes or having your dog microchipped if he or she isn’t already.
- Be in a strong relationship. If you are in a relationship, it is crucial that you and your partner are both ready to introduce a new member into the relationship.
- Be aware of allergies. You should be aware of your own, and any family’s or roommates’ allergies before adopting an animal. If you realize afterwards that you or someone else has an allergy, meet with your physician to discuss ways on how to reduce the allergy.
- Provide a stable environment. Warmly welcome your dog into their new environment, and also train him or her to avoid destructive behavior. This may include crate training or training classes, which can encourage bonding. Let your dog understand who the pack leader is and help them adjust to their new home.
- Pay attention and give your dog plenty of affection. Exercise him or her as much as possible, particularly if he or she struggles with separation anxiety. Consider your living situation before adopting a particular dog. If you live in an apartment complex, a dog who is less prone to barking would most likely be a better fit.
- Your dog is now your responsibility. Be aware of his or her behavior, particularly if you notice signs of behavioral issues. “Aggression is often the result of an environmental factor such as poor parenting from a previous owner. Proper behavioral training can help alleviate many causes of aggression in dogs.” Consulting with a veterinarian or professional is the first step to helping a dog struggling with behavioral issues.
Animal shelters are constantly full of loving faces and wagging tails. If you are capable, there is always a dog waiting to find his or her life partner and forever home.
For more information on animal shelters, sniff out this resource.