Buying vs. Rescuing Pets (Part 2)

Pet Articles Posted on by Sandy Cosser

Adopting a shelter dog

The first part of our buying vs. adopting a pet series looked at buying. In this part we look at rescuing.

People who adopt usually do so because they believe it’s the right thing to do. After all, you can give an abandoned, neglected or abused animal a second (or third or fourth) shot at a happy home. Again, you have two options:

  • You can adopt from a shelter.
  • You can adopt from a breed-specific rescue organisation.

Shelters are great if you don’t care about breed or size and are just looking for a pet who speaks to your heart. Breed rescue organisations are great because you can get the breed you want without any guilt. Both options allow you to choose between puppies, young dogs and seniors, so you really can get a companion ideally suited to your life.

As with breeders, you get reputable groups and shady groups. So what should you look for in a good rescue organisation?

The kennels should not be too cramped or confined and dogs should have adequate shelter from all weather conditions, as well as access to the outdoors (e.g., exercise runs and green areas), the kennels should be reasonably clean and the animals should have access to clean water and the shelter should have a sterilisation policy (all dogs in the shelter are sterilised).

The adoption process should be fairly rigorous and include a home check/evaluation to determine the property’s suitability for a cat/dog or kitten/puppy, socialisation/introductions should be provided for animals going into homes with existing pets, there should be an onsite vet to provide round the clock health care and, ideally, there should be volunteers to interact with and play with the animals, as well as a trainer and/or behaviourist on hand to give the animals the best possible chance of being – and staying – adopted.

Most shelters also have a returns policy, so if the adoption doesn’t work out you have to return the animal to the shelter and only that shelter.

Pros of adoption

  • You save a life.
  • All of the critical health needs have been taken care of, including vaccinations and sterilisation.
  • Your new dog or cat will have been assessed to determine their temperament and the placement will have been carefully considered to drastically improve their chances of fitting into your home.
  • The assessment also means you will have a good idea of what to expect and shouldn’t be surprised by any weird behavioural issues cropping up.
  • If you’re getting an older dog, house training probably won’t be an issue.
  • You can help an animal with physical or behavioural problems become well-adjusted and lead a happy life.
  • Adopting is cheaper than buying from a breeder – considerably cheaper.
  • Mixed breeds are often hardier and healthier than pure breeds and aren’t prone to breed-specific health problems.

Cons of adoption

  • Most shelter animals have some issues, even if it’s just over-excitement. You need to be prepared to accept and deal with these difficulties and that includes bringing in the assistance of a qualified, approved behaviourist if necessary.
  • Technically, this isn’t a con because it’s for your new pet’s good, but it might be considered an inconvenience. You might need to make some changes to your home to pass the home check/evaluation, especially if you have a low fence that can be jumped, a gate that can be squeezed through, a balcony or stair railing with gaps big enough for a dog or cat to fall down or an uncovered or unfenced pool.