With all of the clamor for the public to adopt a shelter dog, (and I’ve been clamoring as much as anyone) we should look closely at what might be involved.
It should be a serious decision, not an impulse.
Sadly, many dogs in shelters—certainly not all—are there because of behavior problems. Many were not properly socialized as puppies and will need serious and loving training.
(Depending on the source) 20-30% of dogs turned over to shelters are dogs that were adopted from shelters originally. Unfortunately, most of these dogs are doomed as two time losers when they are returned. The behaviors that landed them there in the first place are behaviors that the new adopters were not prepared to handle and, in fact, may have made them worse by harsh punishment or neglect.
Shelter personnel can be a big help in matching dogs to the homes, experiences, and lifestyles of humans.
But there are some humans who just should not have a dog.
These are people who
- Are not prepared for a 365 day commitment for 10-15 years of a dog’s life
- Seldom take advice from anyone about anything
- Expect to be informed when Timmy falls into a well
- Think a dog should be grateful for a home and won't mind living neglected out in the yard
- Are permanently grossed out by dogs eating their own vomit
- Just want a big scary dog to protect their stuff
- Think that surfing TV channels is the only exercise needed by man or beast
- Wouldn’t consider an older dog because puppies are so cute
- Are not willing to keep expensive items out of reach or to accept responsibility when the items get chewed
- Expect a puppy to know the difference between carpet and grass
- Don’t think dog fur enhances clothing or furniture
- Follow every fad
- Are totally self involved
- Have no plans for their lives or living conditions past a few weeks or months
- Have no concept of costs involved in having a dog
- Are shocked to learn that there is a fee to adopt a dog from the shelter
- HAVE ANY ANGER MANAGEMENT ISSUES
I’ve heard stories about some shelters and rescues that make it difficult for people to adopt dogs. Some applications ask for details of the home, past experiences with dogs, and a detailed plan for ownership. For the most part they are trying to find a good match so their shelter doesn't become a revolving door for the dogs.
While some shelters may seem to be unduly intrusive, most of them will work with qualified applicants to make sure the dog that most suits them will find a loving home and the humans are prepared for Life with a Dog.
A dog is forever, not until.