Don’t Shop! Adopt!!


Dispelling the Myths
Shelter Animals Have Behavioral Problems
Some believe that pets in shelters are there because they have behavioral problems. The sad truth is that most of these animals are where they are due to their previous guardians’ ignorance and indifference. Often, people who have acquired pets from shelters and pounds are pleasantly surprised at the fine companions they have adopted. Animals with serious and obvious behavioral problems are not put up for adoption. Remember, many excellent animals waiting to be adopted will exhibit minor behavioral problems. Some are scared while others are excited. This should not be held against them as they are in a stressful environment.


Shelter Animals Are Older & Not Trainable
While most of the pets in shelters and pounds are mature animals, there are also puppies and kittens available for adoption. The saying “You cannot teach an old dog new tricks” is false. Shelter animals respond well to good, effective and humane training techniques. When training your pet it is important to be consistent, patient and understanding. We have adopted many times over the years including our incredible Akita dog Theo. The road was somewhat rocky at first but within a short while and with love, dedication and effort he soon became the ultimate canine soul mate of our lives.


Shelter Animals Are Inferior To Purebred Pets
Some people mistakenly believe that purebred pets are superior to animals of mixed breeding. Purebred dogs and cats are not smarter, healthier or more even-tempered than canines and felines of mixed breeding.

If you want a purebred pet you should visit your local animal shelter or pound. There was a time when purebred dogs were seldom found in these facilities. Unfortunately, due to mass breeding, purebred dogs are common and more are being surrendered to animal shelters and pounds.

If you desire a particular breed because you like the character that breed displays, why not visit your local animal shelter or pound and adopt a pet with the characteristics that you are looking for? Often a pet of mixed breeding has a disposition and character similar to the breeds that were responsible for his/her creation. Another good resource is If you are a first time dog owner, think long and hard about how much time you are willing to train, exercise and devote to your new pet. Be clear about the type of coat, size, exercise requirements and temperament that you consider ideal. Many previous pet owners failed to do so which is how some of these animals are now in this horrible situation. Ignorance is not bliss!

Benefits of Rescuing a Pet
There are numerous benefits with providing a good home to a pet who needs it. One obvious benefit is the rewarding experience associated with saving an animal’s life. This good act is returned several times over by the loving and devoted nature of the canine or feline family member who improves the lives of his/her guardians by providing companionship, loyalty and love – to name but three things. Other benefits of adopting a dog or cat in need of a good home include:

 The cost of adopting a pet at an animal shelter is usually inexpensive compared to buying one from a breeder or pet store. Often animals adopted from shelters have already been neutered or there is some economic incentive to have the animal neutered. Most of these animals have also been wormed and vaccinated.

  Adopting a companion animal from a shelter means you are helping, and not     contributing to, the pet overpopulation problem.

 Adopting a mature dog or cat means that you do not have to go through the demanding stage of raising a puppy or kitten.

 With a mature pet you have a good idea of the animal’s temperament and you know the animal’s adult size, hair coat etc.

 Mature pets are often house-trained (although some mistakes will likely occur until the animal is used to his/her new family, home and routine) and may even have some basic training.

 Providing the animals get along, an adopted pet can be good company for other pets.

 Shelter animals have beautiful temperaments and want to please their new guardians.

While there are many benefits to adopting a rescued pet, there may be a minor concern or two. Depending on how the animal has been treated, he/she may require a little more time, understanding and guidance before being totally comfortable with his/her new family and home. However, with patience, love, understanding and a good training program, even pets with rough pasts become well-behaved family members – if they aren’t already!

Some Things to Consider When Adopting
There are many things to consider when adopting a pet. Once you have carefully considered all aspects of raising a companion animal, such as cost – both in terms of time and money – and you are still sure that you want, and can provide for, a pet, then you are ready to consider specific qualities and characteristics of the animal. Again, things to consider when adopting a dog or cat include: size, temperament, sex, age and coat.


Don’t overlook older animals as they often make the best pets. As well, don’t overlook animals who appear quiet, scared or excited. Many animals in shelters and pounds are frightened and a little overwhelmed and may exhibit some minor behavioral problems due to their stressed state. As Bob Christiansen points out in his book Choosing & Caring For A Shelter Dog, “The trick is to look not so much at what the dog is, but at what it will become under the guidance of a kind, knowledgeable owner.”


Successfully Adopting a Shelter Animal
Many adoptions are successful because there are few surprises regarding the type of pet adopted. The people adopting the pet got to know the animal they were adding to their family. When adopting a pet it is a good idea to find out as much about the animal’s history as possible. Ask employees how the animal behaved while at the shelter. Do they know if the animal is good with children and other pets? It is also a good idea to have the entire family meet their prospective pet away from the stressful environment of the other animals. Many shelters have designated areas where this interaction can take place. People who already have pets might make arrangements with shelter employees to have their pets meet a prospective sibling in a controlled, neutral setting to see how they get along.

While getting to know pets before adopting them is important, so too is learning how adoptions can be made more efficient and how to effectively raise a companion animal. There are numerous books and other information available that deal with effectively raising a pet.


A Final Word
There are few experiences in life more satisfying and rewarding as saving a companion animal’s life and making him/her a valued member of the family. Pets being the wonderful creatures that they are enhance our lives tremendously and give us much more than we provide for them.


If you have adopted a pet in need then you already know this. And take the time to educate others as to the importance of giving rescued pets a good home. Until the unnecessary killing of companion animals stops, we owe them no less.




Suggested Sites and A Thank You Offer From Dancing Paws



 adopt don't shop



A Rescue Animal’s Poem

When you look into my eyes I know what you will see.
There is only love and trust where fear once used to be.

For I was an abandoned animal a cold and hungry stray.
But you reached out your gentle hands
And took me home to stay.

I’ve eagerly accepted the compassion you have shown.
I soon forgot the times
When I was frightened and alone.

You opened up your heart to me
And taught me how to trust.
You’ve given me a loving home where kindness is a must.

So when you gaze into my face I hope you’ll realize,
That “love without condition” is reflected in my eyes.

By Carole Preble



PLEASE consider adopting a black dog.

They really DO take longer to adopt out than ‘colorful’ dogs.

Black pups face doggie discrimination
Dark-coated pooches tend to linger in shelters the longest
By Melissa Dahl

Health writer

updated 7:34 a.m. CT, Wed., March. 5, 2008

It’s not like Pamela Gregg was a stranger to helping out the underdog. She thought she knew what kinds of pooches linger the longest in animal shelters: Older dogs, abused dogs, sick or injured dogs — dogs like George Bailey, the hound mix she’d rescued after he’d been struck by a car.

But black dogs? While searching for a companion for George Bailey, Gregg was shocked to see a banner on an Ohio animal shelter’s Web site that detailed how tough it is for big dogs with black coats to find homes.

“It said something like, ‘We know that you people prefer colors, but we’ve got wonderful black dogs here, won’t you please consider them?'” recalls Gregg, who’s 49 and lives in Xenia, Ohio. “I was shocked, because I think that black dogs are beautiful — and I couldn’t believe people would not get a dog based on its color.”

To the uninitiated, the idea seems so strange — doggie discrimination? But among those in animal rescue circles, the phenomenon is commonplace enough to have earned its own name: “black dog syndrome.”

“There’s not a lot of that type of statistics on many aspects of sheltering,” says Kim Intino, the director of animal sheltering issues for the Humane Society of the United States. “But I think that every person that has worked in a shelter can attest that in shelters animals with black coats can be somewhat harder to adopt out — or to even get noticed.”

Even after a year had passed at a Los Angeles animal shelter, no one had noticed Estelle. Except, of course, for the staff; they fawned over the big black dog and her gentle demeanor. They started letting Estelle roam the office during the day, which let one couple see her in action — outside her cage and calmly interacting with people. They fell for her, and took her home.

But not every black dog is lucky enough to get that kind of special attention, says Madeline Bernstein, the president of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Los Angeles.

“They’re the hardest to adopt out, they’re in the shelters the longest and therefore, they’re most likely to be euthanized if nothing happens,” Bernstein says. (Breeders don’t tend to face this problem at the level that shelters do, simply because they have fewer animals to deal with than a city shelter that takes strays in every day.)

Bernstein has plenty of theories about why people might not want black dogs in animal shelters. It’s mostly an unconscious thing, she says, which may explain why black cats have the same problems finding a home. People who are aware of superstitions about black cats (don’t let them cross your path!) may also be unconsciously harboring superstitions about black dogs.

In British folklore, such as stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sir Walter Scott, the black dog is a creepy, spectral figure that haunts cemeteries and is an omen of death. (Non-lit geeks who’ve never heard of those stories have at least seen “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” in which a big black dog called the Grim stalks Harry.) Another Englishman, Winston Churchill, battled serious bouts of depression which he called “the black dog.”

But some speculate that black dogs just don’t have the right look to catch the eye of potential adopters.

“Black dogs might appear older; even when they’re young, they have bits of facial hair that may be white or gray,” Bernstein says. And the ignored breeds are often those who simply look a little big and scary, and whose bad reputations may have preceded them, such as Rottweiler, Doberman pinscher and pit bull mixes.

Bernstein says some people turn in their black dogs to the shelters because they’ve gotten new furniture and don’t like the dark fur their pet sheds.

Too hard to see
But it may be the simplest reason that’s costing these dogs a good home — their black coats can make them invisible in poorly lit kennels. (Same problem happens with amateur photos on shelters’ Web sites, which is how many people find the dog they intend to adopt.)

“Sometimes if a potential adopter sees a whole row of black dogs, they think, ‘Maybe they’re not being adopted for a good reason. Maybe there’s something wrong with these dogs,'” Bernstein says.

So volunteers at some shelters put extra energy into getting their black dogs noticed. They place brightly colored, eye-catching blankets and toys in their kennels. At Bernstein’s shelters, they tie pink ribbons around the necks of the girls, and fasten big bow ties around the necks of the boys.

“In our kennels, the black dogs are all decked out,” Bernstein says.

One shelter in Kettering, Ohio, the Society for the Improvement of Conditions for Stray Animals even ran a special discount on black dogs in February, slashing adoption fees in half after executive director Rudy Bahr realized that out of his shelters’ 42 dogs, 28 of them were big and black. Bahr instructs his employees in the same sort of tactics Bernstein’s shelters take to attract attention to black dogs, like tying bandannas around their necks and taking the dogs to a well-lit area outside to have their photo taken for their Web site.

It was that kind of photo on the shelter’s site that attracted Gregg’s attention as she continued her search for a companion for George Bailey. “I was trolling through their pictures and there she was,” Gregg says. “She was a hound mix like George Bailey, but Molly is sleek, shiny black. As soon as I saw her I completely fell in love. I couldn’t get in my car fast enough.”

Molly and Bailey turned out to be a perfect match, and if Gregg someday rescues another dog, she says she’ll definitely go for a big black dog.

“If and when I get another dog, I will probably deliberately look for another black dog, only because I’ve learned of black dog syndrome,” Gregg says. “Bring ’em my way, because I love ’em.”

© 2009 Reprints