By: Karyn Collier, DVM, Chief Medical Officer of St. Francis Veterinary Center
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has designated October as National Adopt a Shelter Dog month. More than three million dogs are currently in shelters across the United States and are in need of a good home. The month-long observance encourages animal lovers across the nation to raise awareness about the positive aspects of adopting a pet from your local shelter.
It’s important to educate yourself before making the commitment to love and care for a pet. Here are some tips to guide you through the process:
- Make sure you are ready for the commitment: A dog is an extension of your family, so it’s important to make sure that you are ready to add more responsibility to your daily life. With good care, most dogs can live 12 to 15 years, so it is critical that you consider what is likely to be happening in your life over the next few years before you adopt a pet. Make sure to discuss the decision with your family and research what breed would work best for you and your loved ones. The ASPCA provides tips on adopting the perfect family pet at http://bit.ly/gSGXFt and the American Humane Society provides tips
on recognizing whether or not a dog is right for you at http://bit.ly/ToMeGD.
- Know the facts: Many shelter dogs are pure breeds, and most will have additional vetting, with basic vaccinations and microchipping options. Most shelters will also provide assistance and referrals for affordable spaying and neutering. Shelters and rescue groups offer a wide variety of purebreds, mixed breeds, and big and little dogs, making it easy to find the perfect dog for you.
- Be prepared: Once you have done your research and determined that you’re ready to adopt a dog, make sure you know what paper work you’ll need in order to complete the process as well as any other materials you’ll need, from two forms of identification to a leash. Your local shelter can provide you with this information. Once the adoption is final you can find helpful health and wellness tips for pet owners at St. Francis Veterinary Center’s Pet Health Library at: http://www.saintfrancis.org/education/pet-health-library/.
- Select a primary care veterinarian: Once you've made the commitment to open your home to a new member of the family, take time to research the primary care veterinarians in your area. Your family veterinarian will become the person who knows your pet's medical needs better than
anyone else, and over time this is the person you'll rely on most to help you
keep your pet happy and healthy. For help finding a veterinarian in your area search here: http://www.saintfrancis.org/for-pet-owners/find-a-veterinarian/.
Adopting a shelter dog can be a truly rewarding experience and gives a dog a second chance at life. The following links will help you to find a local shelter in your area and can help you begin the adoption process.
- ASPCA Adoptable Dogs - http://www.aspca.org/Home/Aspca-nyc/adoptable-dogs
- The American Humane Society - http://www.petfinder.com/index.html
- New Jersey Shelter listings - http://www.njspca.org/adopt_animal_shelters_nj.htm