Adopting from a Shelter

July 5, 2011

Shelters house animals available for adoption as well as strays. Usually they’re at least partially funded by the city, but some are completely dependent on private donations.

The quality of shelters varies dramatically, depending on where it’s located. Some shelters provide basic medical care, training, and spay/neutering. Others are more like holding pens than shelters and don’t bother with the kind of care experts believe is essential to a dog’s well-being, like a daily walk.

  • The population of available dogs usually changes quickly and regularly.
  • At the best shelters, the staff takes notes, and sometimes posts them, on how the dog is doing. Some shelters do extensive tests to gauge a dog’s personality and what sort of home would be the best fit. Many more shelters do not, and you’re on your own. (See choosing a shelter dog or puppy.)
  • Some shelters allow people to put a hold on dogs they want to adopt. Before you lose your heart to a dog, make sure someone else doesn’t already have a claim on him.
  • Some shelters euthanize animals when overcrowded. No-kill shelters will only accept dogs believed to be adoptable, i.e., those who don’t have aggression or health problems, and tend to be younger.
  • If you’re interested in a dog, make sure you ask how much longer he has at the shelter. That is, do you have a long time to make your decision, or is euthanasia scheduled in two days?

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