One of the kindest things you can do in life is give a sad dog that's had a hard life a happy home. Animal shelters around America are filled with dogs that come from all kinds of backgrounds, each with their own "sad" story, who are eager to find their new (forever) home. However, before adopting a friendly canine from your local humane society, there are a few important things that you should understand first. In this article we give some tips for first time dog adopters.
Unfortunately, when a dog ends up in an animal shelter, there is often very little information about it. That's because there are several ways that a dog can end up in an animal shelter. For example, animal control officers regularly pick up strays around cities and towns. Sometimes people move and are unable to take their pets with them. A lot of elderly people end up losing their pets when they move from their house into assisted living. Humane societies must process so many animals that they don't have the time and resources to record much information on them. Furthermore, if a stray was picked up by animal control, the shelter won't know anything about the dog. That means when you adopt a canine companion from the humane society, there's a good chance you won't know that much about its former life.
Having limited information about a dog from an animal shelter also means you won't (likely) be able to find out its true age. Your veterinarian can try to guess its age after an examination. However, a guess is just that. The dog could end up being older than you think - which can make it really sad when its health starts declining sooner than you expect. However, there's nothing wrong with adopting an older pet. Just understand that it might not be around for very many years.
When you don't know where a dog came from, that means you don't know about any potential health problems either. Sometimes people will find out their pet is sick and decide to give it to an animal shelter instead of caring for it themselves. They usually don't tell the shelter about their pet's illness either. Then, when someone adopts the dog and takes it to their vet, they are surprised to find out that it's sick. You should understand that most vets will only 'put down' an animal if it has a terminal disease. That means if there are available treatments - even if they are really expensive - you could end up having to pay for them. Plus, you will have to go through the emotional toll of taking care of a sick animal. Therefore, before adopting a pet, ask if you can have it examined by a veterinarian.
In short, every animal that ends up at a humane society has its own sad tale of how it ended up there. However, you won't likely ever really know that much about a dog that you adopt from a shelter. That also means you won't really know its age either. Furthermore, a pet from an animal shelter could potentially have a disease that you don't know about.