Making the Match: Opting to Adopt Your New Pet
For most families, adopting a pet is a big deal. Whether you’ve had pets before, or this is your child’s first furry sibling, it is important that you find the pet that will be the ‘perfect puzzle piece’ you family is looking for.
Why Adoption keeps Your interest at heart
Of the 23.5 million people who will bring a new cat or dog into their home this year, nearly 17 million of them are undecided as to where they will obtain the animal. Adoption and rescue organizations are the best way to go because they are not trying to sell you a fun, new product with cute accessories like a pet store will; they’re trying to help you find a new family member.
Maybe you’re a little iffy about a rescue organization; many people are. However, these concerns are usually based on misconceptions and stereotypes about adoption, such as:
- Assuming history of rescue pets is always a mystery and that makes them somehow less good of a pet
- Hoping to avoid behavioral problems (that they assume are baggage of all rescued pets, both cats and dogs)
- Thinking that getting a young pet will create a stronger bond
- Wanting a specific age/breed, etc. and thinking rescues only have mutts or pitt bulls
While some of these are true in a few cases, the basis of these excuses for buying animals are not only inaccurate, but may also stand in between your family finding the right match, and of course
People just want an animal that will be an easy addition and ‘fit’ with their home. When it comes down to it, breeders and pet store owners want to sell you a product; a living commodity. Rescues and adoption groups want to introduce you to the furry love you’ve never known; to a creature that becomes a lifelong member of the family.
The role of history, bonding, and behaviors
Truth: “With the dogs we take into rescue, most times we do know some history,” explained Pam Frasco, Vice President of Castle of Dreams Animal Rescue, which was established in 2003. The group’s work focuses on mostly puppies, pregnant , and other abandoned dogs who would otherwise have been euthanized.
“We really get to know and work with the dogs on a personal level. A thorough understanding the animals’ current needs, loves, personality, and temperament is significantly more important than knowing the exact history, and that’s what rescues will give you.”
Rescue pets: Their hearts may have been broken, but not their spirits
Truth: The majority of rescued pets have over-the-top personalities: affectionate, loving, playful, loyal. One of the top reasons animals are given up is because the owner is ‘moving,’ not due of behavior problems. For those that do have some kind of behavioral struggle, it is often the fault of the owner, and can be retrained with proper care and nurturing. Take Michael Vick’s pit-bulls for example: rewarded for aggressive behavior; neglected, tortured, and treated like inanimate objects. Yet all the surviving dogs were evaluated as gentle and affectionate. Each of them found forever homes and have shown that their true selves are lovable, huggable, mushes. Everyone is a story of inspiration and second chances.
Behavioral obstacles are not exclusive to rescue dogs, and in fact can be cultivated in pet store and breeder environments.
Castle of Dreams have taken dogs from pet stores because they got too old and lost their ‘puppy’ look, and the store wouldn’t sell something that wasn’t baby. “They were scared, not socialized, had been kept in a crate for 24 hours and therefore not potty trained,” explained Frasco, who would not specify the pet store. “These are precursors for behavioral problems, and simply because the a pet store’s top priority is money.”
A good rescue organization will let you get to know the dogs on a personal level, in order to find the one that best suits your needs and desires. “Rescue dogs, and their potential adopters, have an advantage over breeder and pet store dogs because during our fostering, socializing, and training, we can identify and begin working on certain issues. If there is a behavioral problem we are already working through that with them, and will let the adopter know all about it. If an adopter does not want to deal with issues, we can find them a dog that suites them because we know the dogs.
Rescues and shelters only have old mutts or pitt bulls, not puppies or purebreds
Truth: Not that we have anything against old mutts or pitt bulls, but this statement is a total fallacy! Rescue groups constantly have puppies up for adoption. Many of them are ‘pulled’ from a kill shelter (the term ‘pull’ refers to the last minute saving of an animal that is scheduled to be euthanized). Castle of Dreams is one of them. “We work a lot with puppies and their mothers that were to be killed. We also pull pregnant moms, and their babies are born in our foster homes where they are constantly nurtured and socialized unlike in a breeding situation.”
If you’re looking for a specific breed, you can easily rescue one- approximately 25% of all pets in shelters and rescues are purebred. Petfinder’s adoptable pet list makes it easy by allowing you to search by breed, plus, there are hundreds of breed-specific rescues (for every breed from Teacup and Miniatures to Boxers and Bulldogs, to Spaniels, Setters, and Retrievers.) At the time this post was written, Castle of Dreams had Shih Tzus, Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, German Shepherds, and Yorkies, and Poodles up for adoption. Many are babies or young, while a few are adults or seniors.
Breeders/pet stores care for the animals and want what’s best for both them and us.
Truth: To a rescuer, each animal is seen as an individual with a one-of-a-kind personality, unique likes and dislikes, and distinctive expressions. To a breeder or pet store owner, they are seen as products that will fill their pockets. They might sound sweet and caring, but keep in mind, they wouldn’t sell any puppies if they didn’t. Just like a car dealer, they’re trying to make a sale.
Making the Match: Why adoption keeps your interest at heart
A rescue volunteer is motivated only by the desire to save or improve the life of a homeless animal; there is no profit or commission to influence them. That means a rescue organization is going to do everything possible to make sure you and your new pet are a wonderful match. This includes disclosing their temperament and obstacles, if any. “If a behavioral problem exists, you can bet we are already working through that with them,” said Frasco, “and we will let the adopter know about it. If an adopter does not want to deal with issues, we can find them a dog that suites them because we know the dogs.”
The bottom line is this: if the adopting family isn’t happy, the animal won’t be either, so you can trust a rescue to make the match and be honest about it. Someone who profits from breeding doesn’t really care what happens to your family or the animal once you hand over the cash, where as rescue groups want it to be a lifelong companionship. So trust me when I say that adoption keeps your interest- and that of the animal- at the very heart of the mission of matchmaking.