There are many places to acquire a pet. Shelters, Rescue Groups, Breeders, Pet Stores, (aka puppy mills). Avoid some like the plaque.
Once you have decided if you want a purebred or mutt, a local shelter will always have both. Not long ago I saw a Collie, Coon Hound, Cocker Spaniel, Whippet and a few others. Some are no-kill shelters, which are becoming more pronounced in the United States. Other shelters neither have the space nor the funds and after a certain period of time need to put them down. Nominal adoption fees.
No-Kill vs. Kill Shelters
Some people think they are saving a life if they get one from a shelter that might only have a few days to live. On the other hand, people who go to a no-kill shelter and find out some of the pets have been around for 5 years cringe. They think that no animal should have to live life in a cage. The only person who can decide which is the right thing to do is you. Both places will regretfully have many pets to pick from. Nominal adoption fees.
In either situation, remember that these places are staffed with mostly volunteers. Most of you have lived with pets longer than they are old. Many are highly under trained considering the seriousness of the commitment. The last place I went, two men were bragging how they trained the last Rottweiler to attack, …”shame it went through that window man”. Guess what they walked out of the shelter with, you guessed it, another Rottweiler. They also do not have the volunteers or funds to run proper checks and the adoption form you fill out is rather basic. You can tell them anything and you can bet they will not check to verify most of it. Bank on the fact that most shelter people are banking on the fact that you know what you are doing. Make sure you do know what type of pet you want and how it will fit into your lifestyle. The object is to not have to return that little being.
What do you need to ask them since you can bet they will rarely ask you? Strays are problematic since they have an unknown history. Approximately how old are they? Do they get along with other pets? Any idea about children? Fence jumper or not? What personality traits have you, volunteer person, seen.
So you are driving past a local shelter and say, hey, let’s just go in and have a look around. Well, for the life of me I cannot imagine anyone wanting to do that unless they are planning on getting a pet. These are horribly depressing places. You see all these little eyes staring at you and you just have to take one home. What are the best suggestions under this situation?
- Unless you had pre-planned to adopt a pet that day, you should have never turned into the parking lot
- You, single handedly, cannot save them all
- Turn off your emotions as best you can
- Be objective
- Remember, you cannot save them all
- If you find a pet you just “have to have”, put a hold on them and GO HOME!
- You Cannot Save Them All
Hopefully you have not walked out with a new addition to your family. Spend the rest of the day/evening thinking about what that pet in your home really means to both your family and the pet. If you wake up the next day and still have to have that dog or cat, without saying, but, but, but…, drive back and adopt them.
Now that you have adopted the right pet for the right reasons now what. If you have another pet at home the last thing you do is run home with the new addition. Every week I do the rounds of the shelters, kennel cough is up in the top five most contagious illnesses a dog can get. You cannot imagine the amount of ill animals in shelters. Contact your vet, tell them you are adopting a pet from XYZ and would like to bring it directly from the shelter to them. You do not want to expose your current pets to anything that new animal might have.
This happens a great deal that mom and dad decide the little boy or girl should have a dog/kitten to teach them how to be responsible. Then there are presents from spouses or other significant partners. Let us not forget the presents for a parent or grandparent.
You know, almost every store you go into has gift cards you can buy. In Safeway at the checkout there are Nordstrom’s, Barnes and Nobles, MCI, a slew of them. Never, ever have I seen Buy A Puppy/Kitten gift card. I wonder why?
If you want to teach your kids how to be responsible, how about giving them that out dated thing that most people have forgotten about. Chores! If you want to surprise your partner with a dog or cat, maybe find out why you met them and they did not have a pet, yet alone want one now. Before you go out and get your 70 year old parent a 6 month old puppy, maybe asking first would be a grand idea.
What you think is a great company for you or would be great company for someone else might not be in the best interest for the person you are getting one for. Unless you know for certain that person ABC really wants a pet or misses the one they had, please reconsider your “present”. The best idea is make up a little gift certificate of your own. Buy a nice card, put it inside with a bow on it. If they wish to use it, your offer is the purchase of the pet, lunch and a trip to however many shelters they wish to visit.
In shelter situations, try to never think about you first, think about that little creature locked behind those cells. Realize that each one of them had a home for either a short time and in some cases a long time. For whatever reason, they have been ripped out of whatever security and familiarity they have had. Put into a horribly depressing place with other howling animals, everything they ever knew is gone. They are scared, sad, confused and insecure. The last thing anyone of them needs is to go either into the wrong home or be taken back. Again.
If you are looking for a purebred, rescue groups are one of my personal favourites. Generally all purebred animals have a rescue group/s. Your local Humane Society has a list as well as any Internet search. These pets range from puppies/kittens to adults and everyone in-between. Nominal adoption fees.
Depending on the person running the particular rescue, it can be very difficult to adopt. If they are like myself, you might as well be adopting human child with the hoops I make people do. Most of these people are truly dedicated to the breed and do not care as much about money as they do finding the perfect home. They usually know the history of the pet but like many places, do not always know the real reason the animal is being returned.
What a good rescue person should ask you. References out the ears and not just your vet. They will usually do a home check to make sure you really do have a fenced yard; that you really live where you say you do and many other things they want to see. There will be a contract to sign stating that if you ever have to give up that pet it must come back to them. If you have never had experience with the breed, they will hopefully try and talk you out of it. Most of these people are very hands on and will do whatever they can to help you. Please do not assume that just because a person does rescue they are a responsible, caring person. Alas, the almighty dollar can come into play just as easily as any other place. There are many people who claim to be “rescue” persons who should not even own a pet.
If you are still on the hunt and want a puppy/kitten you can go directly to the breeder. Be cautious however since some breeders can be nothing more than a glorified puppy mill. They will have pet and show animals. Read the contract very carefully. Similar to rescue groups, a good breeder will do the best they can to turn you off to a certain breed if you have never had one. They should also always require that under any situation you might need to give the pet up, they must go back to the breeder.
First ask “how many litters a year do you produce?” If the answer is more than one, walk the other way. Ask if you can spend time with the breed or litter to see how they interact. If both “parents” are on the property, ask to spend time with them. How clean is the place the animals are in? Do they look well cared for, handled a great deal, fresh water and food available? If the breeder cannot be bothered with you and just wants to off-load the animals, walk away. The only situation that you would reconsider is if those animals are not well taken care of. I have walked out with three Afghan puppies at one time because I refused to leave them in the situation they were in. Usually high dollar pets.
Puppy Mills and Pet Stores
Some people think these are great places to get a pet. I am neither a nice person when it comes to these places nor would I agree. I will not even get on my bandwagon about these places. The next time you are in the mall and slide into one of these vile places, or going through the classifieds, think twice.
Please Do Not Buy From These Places
(Note on author: The advantage of opinions is they cannot be wrong and they cannot be right. Consequently all written material is strictly my opinion based on over 30 years working with animals. I do not believe in “experts” for one finds out quickly that there is always someone who is smarter, better educated and a wider life experience. If I was an expert and knew everything I would opt to be dictator of the world, not working with animals. I do not believe in statistics since for every con argument there are equal pro arguments to challenge those statistics. Consequently rarely, if ever do I use them.)
All information is copyright by Mimi Davis d.b.a. Curbside Clippers. (Copyright 2002. All Rights Reserved) Any use must have prior permission.