Getting or adopting a new dog is an exciting and at time nerve-wracking experience – you’re introducing a new member to your family, after all. We’re all good, dog-loving people here, so there’s no questioning the benefits dog “ownership” affords our lives; from helping us stay in shape and stay social to helping with mental conditions such as anxiety and depression, there is simply no doubt that introducing a dog to our lives comes loaded with a wealth of benefits. For many people the real question addresses where they should actually acquire a dog. There are many options, from buying a puppy in a pet-shop-window to heading out to a breeder in the countryside. It comes down to what you believe in, what you want and what you’re willing to pay (many people can’t afford this “shop” method) but at the end of the day, we will always recommend adoption as the best course of action. There are numerous reasons for this, and if you can let go of the need for a very specific breed or purebred, then you’ll find adopting to be an incredibly rewarding experience for you and the dog. Some people also worry about their time being too limited to get a dog, or not having time for grooming and so on, so if that’s the case it’s a good idea to look into pet sitting and see if it suits you.
There’s nothing directly wrong with buying a dog from a pet-shop or opting for a breeder, the issue is in the process and the not-so-cute reality behind the whole situation. No doubt, there are breeders and stores that are entirely responsible and take utmost care and pride in the work they do, but too many fail to meet basic standards of care and are actually large contributors to the whole need for adoption services to exist in the first place.
We have a huge problem with overpopulation of domestic animals in Australia and many cats and dogs end up abandoned or living on the street, where if not desexed, they’ll lead to even more homeless puppies and kittens. The reason for this is relatively straightforward. Too many people buy or acquire animals they don’t truly want and therefore they neglect them or take them directly to a council facility. By being a part of stopping this cycle, you’ll not only give a dog a second chance at life, you’ll be contributing to the improvement of animal welfare on the whole.
So if you have decided that adoption is the path for you, we’ve put together a simple guide on how to actually go about it, as there are a few options.
1. The pound
Most of us have heard of “the pound,” which is actually a council run facility where unwanted animals are taken, or collected from the street. Most of these facilities run euthanasia programs based on time. A common time frame given to an animal is 14 days, meaning that from their day of arrival they have 14 days to be adopted, otherwise they will be euthanized. This is why we highly recommend going to your local pound and giving a second chance to a dog you find there. You’ll be surprised by how many different types of dogs are actually available, and at how friendly and healthy that so many of them are. It would be great if new and more humane/sophisticated systems were established but for now, we can only do the best with the system we have.
There are many charities dedicated to the rescue and re-homing of unwanted or abandoned dogs, cats and domestic animals. You’ve probably heard of the RSPCA, for example. There are several others that offer adoption programs, which you can read about on their websites. They often actually offer up to date lists of animals that are currently available, so you can see if there’s a dog you make a connection with simply by seeing their little face in a picture. Animals adopted from charities will usually be desexed, chipped and vaccinated, you’ll most likely have to take care of these things yourself if you purchase the traditional way.
3. Rescue Organisations
Much like charities, rescue organisations are also and option and are usually more localised, meaning you won’t have to undertake a long drive to pick up your new dog. Many have online options but some don’t, so your best bet is to google local rescue organisations in your area and call any that may be of interest to you. Some even specialise in specific breeds, so if you want a pug or a Samoyed for example, you don’t need to go to a breeder – there are plenty that have been abandoned. When googling, be careful that you don’t end up on Gumtree or a similar service, as they don’t have a proper process for managing where the animals available on their website come from and more often than not, you’ll find back-yard breeding situations which are rarely ethical for the dogs.
4. Small Rescue Groups
Similar to rescue organisations, small rescue groups are just a little bit smaller. Many people will have a system of taking care of 3-4 dogs at a time while they attempt to find them a home. This is called foster caring, and they’ll usually be working with a rescue organisation or a larger charity. If you adopt directly from a small rescue group, you’ll not only give a dog a new chance at life, you’ll free up a space for them to take in another abandoned or homeless pup.
Did you rescue or buy? “Shop or adopt?” Let us know your opinion and experience in the comments section!
Tiahn Wetzler is a journalist, writer, editor and animal lover. Follow her on Instagram @tiahnwetzler