Previous adopters, potential adopters, supporters, and shelters–I ask the you take the time to read and share this article. I write this with a heavy heart as I tell you, I am so sick of seeing people giving away, selling, or dumping their dog at a shelter or on the street.
Then you have the people who see a dog that’s listed for adoption through a rescue or a shelter and they run to adopt them; these people decide to be that dogs hero. They go through the lengthy adoption process–the application, reference checks, meet and greets etc. After being approved, the big day comes and you bring home your pup only to bring the poor dog back to the shelter the VERY next day. I truly can not believe what is going through an adopter’s mind when this situation occurs.
Please take into consideration how traumatizing this can be for the dog. Many rescue and shelter dogs have not been dealt a fair hand in life to begin with and to be returned hurts them even more. Every single time a dog is returned, they cry; this will happen especially after getting attached to their family, no matter how much time they spent with them. These dogs have bounced around from place to place for their entire lives, causing them to long for stability, security, and love.
The rescue/shelter put as much work into every single dog as is possible, but they can’t do it all. The expectations are that the adopters continue the work that has begun for the rest of the dog’s life. No dog, not a puppy, adult or senior comes without issues. Every single dog, especially a rescue/shelter dog, has issues. It’s a fact.
When you adopt a dog you are going to need to give it much more than a night or even a week to settle into your home. For any rescue/shelter dog, moving is stressful, change is scary, and your new dog is simply asking for your patience and time to decompress. You will need to address behavioral issues as they arise and research your breed thoroughly. Additionally your pet will need time to get used to your living situation, work schedule, and family dynamics. Rescuing a dog is NOT easy but nothing worthwhile is! If you happen to have children, you will be teaching them a great lesson in perseverance, commitment, and respect for animals. For someone who has been rescuing for a very long time I can personally tell you that when the dog finally adjusts, it is the most rewarding experience!
This is where I need to make a statement, a brief note to some no kill shelters out there, PLEASE EDUCATE!
Educate your staff about the dogs in your care: about the breeds, specific needs, dog reactivity, fears of strangers etc. It is crucial in order to avoid issues inside the shelter so that dogs who may have special needs are taken care of properly. An added incident being recorded in the dog’s history because the shelter was careless in who they allowed to handle a dog just hinders the possibility of adoption, so it is imperative to make sure the proper individuals are handling and caring for the specific dog!
Educate potential adopters: about the breed they are considering, or about the specific needs the dog they are interested in bringing into their family may have. Don’t just adopt a dog out to anyone. Make sure it really is the right fit, even if finding that family takes time! There’s no hit or miss here, a dog’s feelings and life are at stake. Give people a list, phone numbers, names of trainers and behaviorists they can turn to for help should they need it. Again, this simply adds to the list of everything that is already working against the dog if you don’t take these important steps.
Shelters, PLEASE, if it’s not a 100% fit, honestly, the dog is better off at the shelter. Example: if you advertised and network that a certain dog requires a home with a fenced in yard, there was a reason you put that requirement in the dogs bio to begin with, don’t adopt the dog to someone that lives in an apartment. No matter what the adopter says or promises, the chances of that dog being returned will be doubled!
I would like to close this post out by reminding all of you: adopting a dog is a lifetime commitment. They are not disposable, they are not an article of clothing you bring home from the store to try on and return the next day for a refund because it didn’t fit right. A dog is a living breathing animal with feelings just like you and me! It hurts me to see them hurt when they are abandoned.
We are the voices of dogs who suffer from these situations, and I encourage you all to advocate for these dogs! Please remember to educate yourself and others about the adoption process if you or someone you know is interested in adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue.
If you would like to further your education on the decompression process when a dog is adopted, you can find some information here: