When considering the birth rates among animals, it’s not hard to
understand why animal shelters are always filled with animals
waiting to be adopted. Shockingly, it has been calculated that over
a seven year period, one female cat and her offspring will produce
approximately 420,000 kittens. Likewise, one female dog and her
offspring will produce 67,000 puppies during a six year period.
Since there are more animals looking for homes than there are
people who want to adopt them, some 6.5 million animals are
euthanized each year.
Given the statistics cited above, adopting an animal can be a kind
and loving thing to do. However, before making the final decision
to adopt, there are a number of things to consider.
Many of the animals awaiting adoption in shelters have had very
rough beginnings. Some were abused, some abandoned and some were
“turned in” because the owners didn’t have time for them. Many were
left alone for long periods and some were never properly potty
trained. In short, when adopting an animal you must be prepared to
work with them. They may come to you cowed or with feelings of
trepidation and may be overly sensitive to your tone of voice or to
any commands you might give them. You will need to be patient and
by all means, loving. When they finally realize that they can trust
you they will reward you with more affection and loyalty than you
Adopting a dog as a means of entertaining a small child is not
recommended. A dog is not a toy and should not be treated as one.
Small children should be trained to understand “animal etiquette”.
In other words, animals are not to be hit, dragged, ridden or
teased. They should understand that being overly aggressive with a
new dog, especially one recently adopted, could cause the dog to
react by biting or running away. If feeding and exercising the dog
is to be the responsibility of a child, an adult should follow up
to be sure these things are getting done. It isn’t the dog’s fault
if a child fails to meet his or her obligations and the dog
shouldn’t have to suffer for the child’s failure.
Many adopted dogs will come to the new surroundings filled with
fears based upon earlier mistreatment or the harsh rules of their
previous owners. Some dogs will be reluctant to go from one room to
another, will shy away when corrected and hide upon hearing a loud
noise. New owners must be patient with them and speak to them
softly and affectionately. Dogs are not stupid and they will
gradually come to understand their new environment and show their
appreciation for your loving care.
When contemplating adoption, prospective new owners should be
prepared to deal with the fact that their new adoptee may not be
completely housebroken. Previous owners may have been irresponsible
in their approach to this training; furthermore, when the dog was
placed in the shelter it continued to do its “business” right in
its pen. Housebreaking is not a complex chore and should not deter
someone from adopting a pet. Some owners will use a cage to assist
in this training, while others will just take the dog out for a
walk several times a day. Fenced yards and doggie doors are minimal
expenses that pay extra dividends on cold or rainy days.
Adopted dogs are subject to all of the behavioral problems commonly
associated to dogs in general. These would include digging, jumping
up on people, jumping fences, barking and nipping. There are proven
solutions to all of these “offenses.” If your dog is prone to
digging, and always digs in one area, there are a number of
effective repellent sprays that work well. If he digs under your
fence, a little buried chicken wire works wonders in breaking that
habit. Spray bottles filled with water should be kept at hand to
break a dog from jumping up and to combat incessant barking. A
quick spritz in the face immediately following, or during, the
offensive behavior will usually bring about a quick behavior
Visiting an animal shelter can be an emotional experience for an
animal lover. It’s difficult to see all the animals in their pens
and not want to take them all home. Such feelings are
understandable and commendable; however, just be sure that prior to
adoption you consider all of the ramifications. And remember, your
best friend is waiting for you at your local animal shelter.