There are many dogs and cats in shelters all over the US. Some were given up by their owners who “knew they’d get a good home” and were naive in hundreds of dogs never get seen to get that home. Lucky dogs are taken in by foster families through rescue programs. These dogs are usually fully vetted and evaluated over days or weeks instead of a few hours. Rescues exist as all breed or specific breeds.
For example you can find a rescue just for Beagles, or German Shepherds or terriers. Many are familiar with the Greyhound rescue but don’t realize other breeds have rescues available too. There’s rescues in certain areas that take all breeds.
A good rescue will match the dog to the family not just the other way around. You will be expected to care for the dog well and if situations change usually will be expected to notify the rescue so a new family can be found. Rescue dogs often get a bad rap for being problem dogs and some WERE. Some were dogs misunderstood or put in a situation where they were not suited to begin with.
Honestly research the best breed for you. Forget about looks solely. Does a barking dog bother you? Generally speaking livestock guardian dogs (which bark to warn off intruders) and many hounds will probably be likely to get on your nerves. Do you like meticulous grooming? If not completely forget Afghans, Shelties, or anything that takes lots of coat maintenance to keep up. Do you like large dogs or small? Are you active or more sedentary when home? If you’re looking for a low grooming, low activity low maintenance dog some suggestions that come up include Corgis and Staffordshire Terriers (sometimes confused with pitbulls.) Keep in mind ALL dogs will need trained and, further, they’ll need training from you. You will need to let them know what you do/don’t want them to do, and be willing to accept that sometimes is just the nature of dogs to do something. If it’s a hot day and there isn’t a way to cool off don’t be surprised if your dog digs in the yard. If you have a big dog that could result in some pretty big holes. There are active dogs in all sizes – a pint sized active dog like the Jack Russell Terrier might be the ticket if you have a limited area.
Look at your finances and determine if you are willing to put money towards a dog. A rescue might cost $100-250 and will be spayed or neutered as well as having all vaccination and usually heartworm tested. Here in this part of Alabama a neuter, heartworm test and vaccinations is going to be around $140 or more depending on if you do some of the vaccinations yourself. Rabies must be done by a vet. You will also need a suitable sized crate (considered the dog’s den – it’s HIS space), bowls, leash, collar and some type of bedding will be a minimum. This can easily cost you, depending on size, $80-200. Keep in mind that while that sounds like a lot these dogs already have much done with them…your “free” dog in the paper is an unknown quantity and will still need all the above done to them.
Rescued dogs have often been heroes not only on a small scale within the family but to society. Rescue pitbulls – some early victims of abuse but many having done nothing but being a pitbull in an area they are forbidden – have become valuable members of law enforcement at Washington state’s LawDogs USA. These dogs have been trained as detection dogs – finding drugs, bombs and other things to keep us safe. The “Beagle brigade” has been home to rescue dogs – these dogs are trained to detect different things and search airports and other public areas. It’s not uncommon that a rescue dog is trained for detection, search and rescue or other forms of helping people such as service dogs. Many of these are high drive dogs that love to play and were “problems” – given up by families because of their high activity. Dogs obsessed with a toy for example have become dogs protecting all of us.
Rescue dogs can come with problems. Some have been abused and take extra understanding. Some were given up by families and have had transitions and upheaval in their trust level. But for those willing to spend time with, train and bond with a dog a rescue dog, properly matched, can be a highly rewarding experience.
Dogs might be at the shelter for various reasons. They might have gotten lost from their family; they might be abandoned. They might be a stray or given up for a host of reasons from people who were not committed to a lifetime committment. Many are left as they’re “sure he can find a good home” – one of those, Ranger, was within an hour of being put to sleep when a rescue member picked him up…within a few hours he was here at a foster home. There is indications large black or black and brown dogs are the last to find homes. Ranger and many like him need homes – they’re good dogs…many are young dogs.
Take a hard look at a rescue dog – many are purebreds. They’ll come spayed/neutered and will a full set of vaccinations for less than a puppy – and it’s one more pet getting a good home! You never know if your pet might be a hero in the right situation.