Dog rescue shelters

You can find a loving companion and give a good pet a second chance by adopting from a dog rescue shelter. Most dogs in animal shelters are at least a year old and some may have been abandoned because of behavior or health problems. But, with the right questions and a keen eye, you can easily find that doggy diamond in the rough.

Questions to ask before adopting

You should do your homework before you head to the local dog rescue shelter. Make sure you’re ready for the responsibilities of pet ownership and think about the traits you want in a dog. Pound puppies can pull at the heart-strings and, if you’re not prepared, you might make an impulsive decision that’s wrong for both you and the dog.

The following are some questions you should ask the animal shelter staff before adopting a puppy or dog:

About the Shelter:

How are dogs initially evaluated at the rescue shelter?

Care varies widely among facilities. Some shelters do a basic health screening of the dogs, including a check for heartworms and other parasites. Some test the temperament and behavioral tendencies of their dogs. Some do no testing at all. The more a shelter does for a dog when it arrives, the less chance there is for surprises if you adopt one of their animals.

Do they offer support after you adopt a dog?

If the dog rescue shelter has knowledgeable staff, they may be able to help with post-adoption issues and training. They should at least be able to recommend competent dog care professionals including a veterinarian and trainer.

What are the costs and contract requirements?

There’s usually an adoption fee and most rescue shelters require the dog to be spayed or neutered, which may or may not be included in the basic cost.

About the Dog You’re Considering:

What information is there on the dog’s background?

Ask why the animal was turned in and if they have any details about the previous owners.

Are there signs of temperament or behavior problems?

The number one reason most dogs are taken to rescue shelters is because of housebreaking or behavior issues. You can deal with most simple problems through obedience training, but you should consider the time, effort, and skill required to retrain a particular dog. Ask specifically about:

  • aggression, including growling
  • nipping or biting
  • shyness or fearfulness

Does the dog get along with the other dogs?

This is a good sign that he’s been properly socialized and is particularly important if you plan to introduce him to another dog at home.

Is the dog housebroken or obedience trained?

The answer to this question will let you know where to start your own training and may provide some insight on why the animal was left with the dog rescue shelter.

Are there signs of health or orthopedic problems?

Make sure you know how to choose a dog that’s healthy. Ask about vaccinations or other treatments the dog has had such as worm medication. Watch him move and check that he’s solidly built and well-proportioned. Limping could signal an injury or may indicate a more serious health issue like hip dysplasia.

Have every member of your family meet the dog before you consider adopting him. If possible, go someplace quiet away from the shelter to see how he reacts. Rescue shelters can be stressful for dogs. You want to put your potential pet in the best light possible to properly evaluate him.

Your local animal rescue can be a great place to adopt a dog. If you know what you want and ask the important questions before committing yourself, you can find the perfect companion. Visit the ASPCA website to find a local dog rescue shelter.