Too many dogs are being killed!

A plea to choose a shelter dog before other sources!

Of the six dogs that we have here at home only one, Cleo, came to us from a breeder. That was because we specifically wanted a GSD puppy to be a playmate for Pharaoh as he was getting into his final years.

Pharaoh demonstrating his benevolent status with puppy Cleo. April 2012.

The other five are all dogs that we took from rescue shelters or, in the case of Brandy, from a couple that couldn’t handle such a big dog despite him being the most placid and loving dog one could ever come across.

The Care2 blogsite recently published an article that hammered home the reasons why everyone should (nay, must!) consider a shelter dog first.

Please read and share this. For the sake of those thousands of dogs that never have the joy of loving owners in their lives.

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6 Common Myths About Shelter Animals (and the Truth About Them)

Adopting a dog doesn’t mean you’re inheriting someone else’s problem. Learn the truth and some common myths about shelter animals.

It’s a sad fact that each year approximately 670,000 dogs are euthanized in animal shelters across the United States. It happens because too many dogs enter the shelter and too few people consider adoption when it comes to getting a new pet. Many buy into one of the most common myths that when you adopt a dog from a shelter you are inheriting someone else’s problem.

The truth is that shelters and rescues are brimming with happy, healthy pets just waiting for someone to take them home. Most shelter pets are surrendered because of a human problem like a move or a divorce, not because the animals did anything wrong. Many are already housetrained and used to living with families.

“When you adopt a shelter dog you are most likely bringing home a dog who has good manners, is leash trained and knows some commands,” said Ellen Ribitzki, kennel manager for the Bloomingdale Regional Animal Shelter Society (B.A.S.S.) in New Jersey.  “In addition, shelter dogs are temperament tested so adopters will have an idea of a pet’s personality―whether he/she gets along with other dogs or with cats and young children.”

In late August the Herrera family visited B.A.S.S. to find a companion for their rescue dog, Charlie. The family had just lost their beloved Roxy, a 12-year-old boxer, and all of them―including Charlie―were mourning the loss.

“We started visiting our local shelters because we know what love rescue dogs can give,” Robin Herrera said.  “We knew that we didn’t want a puppy but we were looking for a dog young enough to be playful. We also knew that Charlie had to approve of the new dog.”

At B.A.S.S. they fell in love with Sophia, an 18-month-old German shorthair pointer mix, an energetic fun-loving and playful dog. Luckily Charlie approved and Sophia is now a much-loved addition to the family.

The Herrera family fell in love with Sophia, a German shorthaired pointer mix, for adoption at the Bloomingdale Regional Animal Shelter in NJ.
Image courtesy of the Robin Herrera

“Sophia and Charlie are constantly hunting for chipmunks in our yard,” Herrera said. “They love long walks together and enjoy snuggling with us at night.”

Ribitzki said that dogs are rarely returned to B.A.S.S., and when it does happens it’s because of health or life changes―for example, allergies or a job change―and not behavioral issues.

“The majority of dogs and cats are surrendered to B.A.S.S. by heartbroken owners in tears because they can no longer care for their beloved pet,” Ribitzki said. “Unfortunately, with the recent catastrophic hurricanes, there will be a lot more animals impacted and more demands on rescues and shelters.”

Shelter dog Sophia (standing) was recently adopted by the Herrera family in New Jersey and has become a loving member of the household.
Image courtesy: Bloomingdale Regional Animal Shelter

October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month and a perfect time to help dogs in shelters across the country find loving forever homes. If you’re thinking of adding a dog to the family, please consider adopting your next animal companion.

6 Common Myths about Shelter Animals

Myth #1: Dogs only end up in shelters because they have behavior problems or are sick.

Truth: Some dogs do end up in shelters and rescue groups because their owners can’t handle their perceived behavior problems (which may be as easy to fix as an older puppy reluctant to housebreaking), but most of them end up in shelters because of a combination of these reasons:

  • They were strays―either they never had a home or they ran away and their owners didn’t reclaim them.
  • The owner moved and couldn’t take his/her pet along.
  • Owners were too busy to take care of their pets, or couldn’t afford to due to job loss or medical emergencies.
  • Owners didn’t know how to train their pet to behave appropriately.
  • Owners got rid of their pet when their baby was born.
  • Owner or family members developed allergies to the pet.
  • The pet required a medical procedure that the owner couldn’t afford.
  • Owners and their family simply lost interest in the pet, this is especially true for older puppies.

Myth #2: You never know what you’re getting with a shelter or rescue pet.

Truth: When you deal with a reputable shelter or rescue group that gets all vetting done―spay/neuter, vaccinations, deworming and heartworm preventative―and temperament tests all of their adoptable pets, you do know what you’re getting!

Myth #3: You have to start the bonding process when your pet is a baby.

Truth: Rescued pets are often noted as being “grateful” for their new lease on life. Forming a bond with an animal whose life you saved comes naturally for most people. Dogs become attached to the people who take care of their basic needs, no matter when those people came into their lives.

Forming a bond with an animal whose life you saved comes naturally for most people.
Image credit: Thinkstock

Myth #4: Shelter animals are not as clean as pet store animals.

Truth: Not only is this untrue, but the conditions of many breeding facilities or puppy mills (which supply pet stores that sell dogs) are nothing short of horrific. Puppies born in puppy mills are usually removed from their mothers at just 6 weeks old and are housed in overcrowded and unsanitary wire-floored cages, without adequate veterinary care, food or water.

Myth #5: Adopting big or very strong dogs is a bad idea if you have little children.

Truth: There’s no evidence that big dogs are more likely than small dogs to harm children. A dog’s behavior is a function of many factors including breeding, socialization, training, environment and treatment by owners.

Myth #6: Getting animals from breeders is safer because the breeders know the animal’s bloodline and family history.

Truth: As a result of their breeding, purebred dogs very often have genetic disorders and medical issue predispositions, certainly no less often than shelter dogs. Also, while bloodlines and histories are useful tools to assess an animal’s value, they are limited in terms of predicting behavior. On the other hand, shelters are motivated to save lives and make strong matches. Some use science and sophisticated tools to appropriately pair up animals and owners and are happy to share everything they know about each animal.

Sources: Second Chance for Pets in Clinton, IL, and the ASPCA

The Humane Society of the United States offers the top reasons to adopt a pet.

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Did you notice that link on the very last line of this article, the one regarding The Humane Society offering the reasons why everyone should adopt? If that link was followed then one would read the most important reason to adopt a pet (my emphasis):

Because you’ll save a life.

Each year, 2.7 million adoptable dogs and cats are euthanized in the United States, simply because too many pets come into shelters and too few people consider adoption when looking for a pet.

The number of euthanized animals could be reduced dramatically if more people adopted pets instead of buying them. When you adopt, you save a loving animal by making them part of your family and open up shelter space for another animal who might desperately need it.

Because you will save a life!

32 thoughts on “Too many dogs are being killed!

  1. I have had shelter dogs in the past. They are very loving, well behaved & eager to please. In the future, I would be more than willing to rescue and adopt. Thanks for the article, Paul.

    1. Since Jean and I have been together we have had more than 25 dogs in our homes in AZ. and here in Merlin, OR. All except Pharaoh, who came with me when I left Devon in 2008, and Cleo are or have been ex-rescue dogs. All underlining what you wrote, Susan. Loving, well behaved & eager to please.

  2. If I am ever in a position to care for a dog full time…a rescue facility will be my first choice. There is an excellent organisation in the UK called ‘The Dog Trust.’ They have enough money (donations and fund raising charity shops), to put on TV ads that are really sweet about how you really open up the gratitude from a dog that is rescued.

    1. Oh Colette, I have just played that video and am writing my response to you with tears in my eyes and a snuffly nose. That ad is perfect! Going to feature that video in a future post. (Acknowledging John’s important plea below.)

  3. To me this is one of the most important messages you have shared since I have been reading your blog! People need to be educated more about this so more lives can be saved. Thank you Paul!

  4. Lovely Post Paul and, as I look over at Ray as he stretches out over our two-seater (he fills it) sofa I have to smile. Adopting Ray from our local Humane Society had all the advantages noted in your Post… with some extras! We had a lot of questions about various aspects of Ray which ultimately allowed very rewarding and educational relationships to be developed. We learned so much from them, and it was all done willingly and at no cost. One trainer even came out to our home to observe him in a home environment!

    I don’t know of course whether our shelter is typical, but their total focus is on the animals in their care. Unlike a business, they have no profit driven perspectives. They will offer opinions on prospective dogs, and also refuse an adoption application if they think the match is not in the best interests of the dog. In fact I witnessed a young couple being refused an adoption request for a Husky pup, because they lived in a small apartment in a hi-rise building, and both were working during the day.

    I have yet to hear about a pet store, or even a breeder, that can match those levels of integrity and enthusiasm. Adopting a “rescue” is by far the most rewarding, fulfilling and humane way to go! 🙂

    1. Colin, I am writing this reply to your fabulous contribution at 06:37. Jean is in the kitchen making the second morning cup of tea. I’m sitting up on the bed, iPad before me, writing to you, waiting for it to become sufficiently light for me to go and feed the horses and the wild deer. If I describe a peaceful and tranquil scene that’s because it is. (That second cuppa has just arrived!)

      Brandy is snoozing on the mat by my side of the bed. Cleo close by. On the bed are Pedy, Ruby, Sweeny and Oliver. Our six dogs. What these dogs, and all the others that have gone before, have given me in the last 10 years is the most loving, joyous, fulfilling and important 10 years of my life. And that isn’t to diminish what Jean has meant to me in the slightest. Indeed, meeting Jean back in 2007 and becoming part of her life with dogs was the key that opened this incredible kingdom for me.

      Thank you, Colin.

  5. I got my Odin as a puppy through private contacts, when some people knew, that I was looking out for a puppy, because my old cats, at that time they were 9 years old and they didn’t like dogs at all. They have been hunted by dogs before.
    I got Odin for free, just I would give him a good home. I saw the parents and after Spanish ways of keeping dogs, they had a good life.
    I couldn’t be sure to get a shelter dog here, who would accept my cats and they came first.
    My cats were a little tough with Odin in the first week, we had him. After that time, he learned how to behave to them and today he loves his brothers and protect them against other cats in our garden.
    My cats have always found me in one or another way, so no need to visit a shelter for cats.

  6. One the past 30+ years, various shelter dogs (including the latest, Miss Elsa) have provided my family countless joy and happiness. With October being Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, this post couldn’t be more timely and important. We are big fans of the ‘adopt, don’t shop’ mantra.

  7. While I have bought many dogs, I have rescued and re-homed tenfold. I recently rescued and re-homed my white GSD’s sister from owners that were unable to care for her. Additionally we re-homed five drop-offs this year already. It seems that locals know to drop a pup off near my home…. My wife and I worm/vaccinate them and feed/groom the strays, then post them for adoption on social media. We never have resorted to sending them to a pound. For the last seven years, we have re-homed dozens of pups and rescued a few from death row at the pound so they could live their last days in the country enjoying being a dog..
    While I buy dogs with specific working lines for hunting and protection purposes, the best dog I ever had was a 40lb Heinz 57 name Sue-gee. She lived with us and stayed in the taxidermy shop of ours. She loved fresh deer meat. She was also a trickster, you could ask her: would you rather be a preacher or a dead dog, and sue-gee would lay on her back and put all 4 legs in the air and be perfectly still….(dead dog was the cue word and you could preface that with any job role) The preacher would always get a kick out of her on Sundays.
    Come to think of it… Thats a great subject for my next story…

    Have a blessed day.

  8. Yes they are – and as we took on this ‘new’ pup, suddenly I saw pregnant dogs and puppies everywhere. It seems a daunting task in a world where people do not think outside of their own tiny bubbles.

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