Choose… but choose wisely.

28 11 2010

It seems as though we were just celebrating the 4th of July and with a blink of an eye Thanksgiving has now passed. For dogs in shelters and at rescue sites, their days are not measured by watching fire works or eating turkey and pumpkin pie surrounded by family and friends. For some, life in a private no kill rescue, where they are guaranteed a safe haven until the day they are adopted, can be a reprieve from an uncertain, dangerous life on the streets, or worse if they were freed from abuse in a household. For many dogs in shelters, their stay is temporary at best as they are only granted days before they become a statistic. With approximately 1000 animals being put to death every day in Los Angeles county, time is of the essence as room is made for new animals coming in. In either case, long term, loving homes are the wish of every person working tirelessly to save dog’s lives and grant them the benefits of home; rescued dogs are often the most loyal unconditionally affectionate companions one will ever find. But, the holidays do pose a bit of a quandary for these beautiful, deserving creatures. Impulse and emotionally charged adopting can prove disasterous; buying animals as gifts on a whim can often feel good at the time, but does little to eradicate the overwhelming homeless pet population because when bad matches are made, bad things can happen, and animals are either back in rescue world or worse, they are killed.

When contemplating adopting an animal from a rescue organization or shelter, it is imperative that families understand at the core the committment that is required from day one. Even if you attend an adoption event put on by a local rescue organization, where animals go to their new homes that day thinking ahead to what kind of animal would fit best into the family is a step that gives a successful pairing better odds. If other animals are in the household, it is best to be able to have the new animal meet his or her new companions to be sure everyone gets along; or have training set up to assist in the transition. Understanding the needs of the animal being considered and the lifestyle you currently have is also key. Placing unrealistic expectations on a dog only leads to an unhappy ending. Be sure to know the rules of your living environment; dogs can live comfortably in apartments as long as they get adequate exercise during the course of the day, and be sure to understand and follow any restrictions that may be enforced.(Sometimes there are weight or sound restrictions in community-based dwellings.) Spaying and neutering the new member of the family also insures no unnecessary indiscriminate breeding will occur; this simple act can positively impact the need to decrease the homeless pet population. The truth is, thousands upon thousands of animals are waiting for the day when someone chooses them. When someone opens their heart and home, realizing the immeasurable daily gifts these animals will bestow upon them. It is a wonderful thing and during the season of giving it is often a good time to stop and consider providing an animal in need with all the benefits of a home they can call their own. The message here in not “don’t choose;” rather choose wisely.