Rover needs a new home? Don't call the shelter

Here are some things to try first


It's no secret that animal shelters are often overflowing with dogs and that shelters and animal control agencies euthanize dogs that no one wants. Although the number of dogs dying for lack of a new home has decreased dramatically in most areas of the country, there are still far too many dogs entering shelters and pounds and not coming out alive.

Many dogs in shelters are strays picked up by dog wardens or turned in by citizens who find them wandering through neighborhoods, but a large number of shelter residents are turned in by owners who no longer want them or can no longer provide for them. The reasons range from family divorce, allergies, illness, or relocation to “the kids are gone so we don't want Lady any more.” One recent study shows that many dogs are abandoned by young families who have failed to build a bond with the animal.

Many purebreds turned into shelters find their way to rescue groups, where they are kept until a new home is found, but most dogs entering shelters die there. There's no doubt that the shelter offers a convenient solution when owners no longer want a dog, but the number of dogs turned in by owners increases shelter deaths and impacts shelter budgets. Here are a few tips to try before making that fateful trip.

  1. If Misty just doesn't fit your family or lifestyle, try to cope. Find a training club or school, read a training book, change your expectations, and try to build a bond with the animal that will keep it in your home.
  2. If you bought Sunny from a breeder, call him and tell him your plight. Many breeders will take back a dog they produced or will have a list of people looking for an adult dog from their breeding program.
  3. If your dog is purebred, contact the breed rescue. Use the list in Dog Owner's Guide or contact the American Kennel Club www.akc.org on the world wide web or the AKC Gazette (212) 696-8390] for the list of rescue contacts it publishes each year. Rescues don't always have room for another dog, but they may have suggestions for solving problems or may know about someone who is looking for a dog like yours.
  4. If life circumstances change and force you to find a new home for Ranger, use the local pet network to help. Put posters at the veterinarian's office and the pet supply store; ask the groomer and boarding kennel staffs to keep their ears open for a potential new home; and advertise in the newspaper. Call the shelter and ask if they have a referral list for potential adopters who are looking for particular pets.
  5. Do not advertise “Free to a good home” even if you don't intend to charge an adoption fee. Some people will take a free dog but may not take good care of it. Instead, advertise a cost that will meet veterinary expenses incurred while getting Fido ready for a new home. If you find a potential adopter who just can't afford the price, you can always decrease it, but you can't charge someone if you advertise the dog as free.
  6. Make sure Murphey is up-to-date on vaccinations, is spayed or neutered, and is free of parasites before placement in a new home. If the new owner will use a different veterinarian, make sure to include a copy of Murphey's health records in an adoption packet.
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Norma Bennett Woolf

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