Rescues are a great way to help a life if it fits in with your lifestyle, family situation and reasons for wanting a dog. Unlike with breeders, almost all rescues are going to be good places to rescue from; after all, how can you go wrong when you open your heart?
Estimated numbers of adoptions and shelter statistics are eye opening to say the least.
- 3,500—Number of animal shelters
- 6 to 8 million—Number of cats and dogs entering shelters each year
- 25 percent—Percentage of purebred dogs in shelters
- 3 to 4 million—Number cats and dogs adopted from shelters each year
- 2.7 million—Number of adoptable cats and dogs euthanized in shelters each year
- 30 percent—Percentage of shelter dogs reclaimed by their owners
- 2 to 5 percent—Percentage of shelter cats reclaimed by owners
According to these number obtained from the (former) National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy only 1/2 of all animals that enter shelters are adopted. 39% of these animals are put to sleep because they didn’t find home. These numbers speak volumes as to the reasons that someone should adopt a pet.
Just like with any important life decisions, logic needs to lead the heart. It is important is that you make the decision based on facts, and ensure that you are ready to bring home a new dog. Do your research ahead of time so you have everything you need; food, food and water bowls, leash and collar, crate and a whole lot of patience.
I had a friend growing up who adopted a dog from an animal shelter. Needless to say he was not prepared. The dog was super high energy and they both worked and attended school full time. They didn’t know anything about training and left the dog to run their house during the day while at work. One day they came home and the dog had eaten their entire couch. You can probably guess what happened to the dog; he ended right up back in the shelter. The entire situation could have been avoided had they rescued a dog that would better fit their lifestyle along with receiving a great education on how to care for a dog.
In addition to paying an ‘adoption fee’ for the dog they are about to adopt, new perspective pet owners should be required to take a day long seminar on how to care for a dog. Perhaps they should raise the price of adoption as well and include a ‘care kit’ with the dog that has the essential items needed (crate included) and a few lessons for training.
I want to give a quick run down of the various types of places where you can adopt from. A slight word of caution: While these are all places you can and should adopt from, they are not all places you should support with charitable donations. I want to give two specific examples of places you need to think twice before donating to.
We’ve all seen the heartbreaking ASPCA commercials air at some point on TV. When you donate to the ASPCA you believe you are donating to an organization that is going to help pets across the U.S. The truth of the matter is that the ASPCA is a local branch of the SPCA in New York. When you make a donation to the ASPCA you are making a donation to one shelter in New York. Now, scroll back up… I’ll wait. You’ll want to check the numbers again on how many shelters there are in the U.S. That’s right. There are 3,500 shelters in the U.S., of which, the ASPCA is only one. This particular branch is extraordinarily wealthy and claims to give donation proceeds to other branches. The truth is that less than 1% ever leaves this particular shelter in the form of donations to other SPCA shelters across the U.S. Why would you want to give your hard earned money to a huge organization that spends less than 1/2 of the donations it earns on things other then the pets they want to help? Giving to a local no-kill shelter or breed specific rescue organization is a much better way to help.
The Humane Society of the United States has been under fire lately. I have seen a ton of articles floating around Facebook these days about allegations on mismanagement of funds, politics missteps and general ideology that you would be surprised to find in an organization such as HSUS.
HSUS doesn’t actually own or run any particular shelter. Nor are they personally associated with any animal donations, food or well being. What they are is an extreme group of lobbyists and activists that use their name to gain donations. Like the ASPCA, HSUS spends less than 1/2 on their budget to helping animal shelters. When you consider their operating budget is over 99 million dollars you have to wonder what they are spending it on, if not for the welfare of animals.
HSUS is more akin to PETA an extreme animal rights activism. CEO of HSUS was even recorded on record saying he didn’t like animals.
“I don’t love animals or think they’re cute.” – Wayne Pacelle
There are more shocking accusations of scandal that involve HSUS giving money to Michael Vick (you remember, the dog fighter) and misrepresenting and misusing funds for Hurricane Katrina pets. If you want to read more you can do so here: Merry Grinch-mas: the truth about ASPCA and HSUS spending.
Don’t let these two organization scare you away from donating or helping. You don’t have to spend money either; many of the organizations could use your donation of time by dog walking, cleaning kennels or by helping to organize events. Personally, I am a huge advocate and supporter for local no-kill shelters. Just use the internet to find shelters in the area that could use your help, investigate them to ensure it’s an organization you want to support and then start supporting! While I may not personally be in a position to adopt a rescue, I do my best to support them.
I just want to close out this section on rescues by pointing out the different types of shelters that you can adopt from to further help make an informed decision. NOTE: The examples below are just that…examples. I am not suggesting they are either good or bad, just using to further illustrate. As always, do your own research before making a decision.
These are your local shelters run by the city and state. They are operated by taxpayer dollars and as such almost always have an ‘open dog admission policy’. This means they have to take anything that is dropped off with them regardless of space or resource available to their shelter. They simply cannot turn an animal away even if this means putting current ones to sleep. These shelters are the ones who tend to euthanize more-so than others simply because they are first thought of when someone needs to get rid of a pet.
No Kill Shelter
These shelters are selective in who they are going to take but only because they are going to keep the animal for the rest of it’s life until it’s adopted. This can mean a lengthy stay and with these longer stays comes longer and higher costs of care. Once the shelter is full they stop taking animals in. These shelters are typically run mostly by volunteers and donations. Most no kill shelters are also not for profit shelters.
Not for profit Shelter
Typically run by either a board of individuals or just a few good Samaritan types who want to help animals in need. They will rescue animals from shelters who are set to be put to sleep, take in animals off the street or from individuals who otherwise can’t care of their animals. These tend to be smaller in type and are all run by 100% volunteer work. They make no money on what they do. Anything you donate to them goes 100% to the animals they are helping.
Breed Specific Rescue
Rescue organization run by volunteers who take in a specific breed. These types of rescue groups are good to adopt from if you want a specific breed of dog but still want to rescue. Usually there is no central ‘home’ to these types of organizations but rather a network of people in a geographic area working together. When you contact them they will usually put you in touch with the closest rescue volunteer to you. You will meet with them and surrender the dog. They typically ask you to fill out a detailed history, provide vet history and any other information that will be helpful in finding the animal a new home. The dog is then placed in ‘foster care’ for evaluation, further medical treatment if needed, and will live with it’s ‘foster parents’ until a suitable adopter is found. They do extremely rigorous checks of background and homes to ensure they are placing the dog in it’s new forever home. They are also 100% non-profit.
Thanks for sticking with this very long series! It’s a serious issue and I wanted to make sure I gave it the attention it deserved. At the end of the day it’s about being a responsible pet owner and ensuring that you are well prepared before you get a dog. I personally feel the animosity held towards reputable breeders needs to stop. A well bred dog is just a rewarding companion as a shelter one. Individuals who chose to go down the path of a purebred shouldn’t be made to feel any guilt for their choice. Just as in all things, research, understand and don’t make blanket assumptions. On the other hand, I have the utmost respect for people who rescue. It really is becoming a hero in the eyes of an animal.
At the end of the day, what is needed is just better education for all people about responsible pet ownership. I firmly believe that the path to decreasing the number of unwanted dogs is through education. This is especially important right now in the U.S. as we continue to thrive in a ‘throw away’ society.
I hope you enjoy this series! Check back soon for some product reviews as well as some fantastic information about healthy living for your AND your dog!