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Public vs. Private Dog Shelters and Dog Rescue Organizations

Generally, two types of dog shelters and dog rescues exist: public and private. Public dog shelters handle the stray dogs within the community and receive animals affected by state cruelty and neglect laws. They also receive pets that are dropped off by their owners for various reasons. If not claimed, the strays in public shelters are available for adoption for a limited time before they are euthanized.

Private dog rescue organizations are usually run by animal advocates who wish to prevent the loss of another dog's life. They accept strays and owner-abandoned animals and may even provide their services to the county. Private dog rescues do not euthanize a dog in order to make room for another, however they may put down a dog that is overly aggressive or seriously ill. These humane rescues have limited space and are supported mainly by grants and donations.

The attitudes within the shelters vary greatly. Employees in the animal shelters have extremely stressful jobs, particularly if they are animal lovers. Uncaring owners drop off abused animals. These dogs live their few remaining days in small cages before being euthanized to make room for the next batch of ill-fated dogs. As if caring for these dogs isn't stressful enough, the staff also has to deal with us humans. Alternating between insensitive people who dump off boxes of puppies to be killed and animal lovers who call them murderers, shelter employees may become defensive when posed even simple questions. Offer the staff your smile and exude support and concern when asking questions.

Purebred Dog Rescue Organizations

One type of private rescue that has begun appearing in the last decade accepts purebreds exclusively. You can still find purebreds in both public and private shelters as well. In fact an estimated 25-30% of all animals brought into shelters are purebreds. However, dog breeders, dog clubs, dog rescue organizations, and even individuals have begun giving homeless purebreds a second chance.

So if you have your heart set on a specific breed, you can still find what you're looking for while rescuing a dog that's had a rough life. Often times the purebreds available from shelters are already full-grown. There are numerous benefits to owning an adult dog. It is calmer, possibly already trained, and essentially over the destructive puppy phases, such as jumping, barking, and chewing on your shoes, furniture, or homework. Additionally, you are not burdened with the financial responsibility for extra veterinary visits or replacement tennis shoes.

Purebred dog rescues have an extensive knowledge about the particular breed with which they deal. An abundance of information is available on the Internet about various rescue organizations. Visit 5 Star Dog's rescue links ( for more information. Some rescue groups do not actually house dogs, but rather keep a list of prospective owners and scope out shelters for dogs that match their needs. Most organizations will perform thorough evaluations on each dog to determine its temperament and health. They also vaccinate and spay or neuter the dog as well as provide the new owners with advice and assistance on nutrition, training, and other topics.

Dog rescue groups have been known to have rigorous requirements for prospective adopters, but they truly have the best interest of the animal in mind. Many of these dogs have skipped from one family to another and are craving stability. The rescue group is seeking the best setting for each dog and is prepared to interview each potential adopter to find a perfect match. Some dog rescue organizations send interested individuals home with a lengthy questionnaire before permitting them access to the dogs. Adopters may complete numerous forms, interviews, and home inspections, only to be turned down because they work full-time, have children or other pets, or live in an apartment. Some adopters may meet all of the requirements, but be turned down because of the dog's reaction to them. Be on the lookout for organizations with unrealistic expectations at any point in the adoption process.

What to Expect From Dog Rescue and Dog Shelters:

A good dog rescue organization attempts to pair you with the dog that best matches your situation. You will have to fill out paperwork that questions you about your home, your family, and other pets. Rescuers may ask about your plans for exercise, training, and veterinary visits. These types of questions may seem invasive to some, however they are necessary in order to find you the perfect pet.

Fees for adoptions from purebred shelters are usually higher than at public or private shelters. The charge will vary and usually covers costs incurred from veterinary care, feeding, and shelter.

Don't be disappointed if you don't find a pet on your first trip out. Adopting a shelter dog, particularly from a purebred shelter is not for anyone who is seeking instant results. However with plenty of patience, you will soon be happily paired with the dog that perfectly matches your family.

Visit the Dog Shelters & Dog Rescue

In order to successfully find the right dog for your family, you must take the time to observe the shelter. Do not take your children with you for this first visit. Their choice will be purely emotional, which may result in a dog that is poorly suited for the family. The health and temperament of the dog should be thoroughly assessed before becoming emotionally attached. This is easier said than done, but is of the utmost importance for your family's health and happiness.

As you look around the dog shelter, remember that a good dog shelter isn't necessarily obvious by its decor. Sources of funding vary. No amount of money put into a building can make up for handlers who are not fully attentive to their charges. Similarly, a less-than-fancy building doesn't preclude the presence of fine people and animals. Basic cleanliness is affordable to all.

Observe how the staff interacts with the animals. Do they talk and play with the dogs? Do they pet the dogs as they pass by? Do they call them by name? The attitude of the employees is a great indicator of the quality of the shelter.

Next, talk to shelter staff. The way that staff treats you is an inkling of the way they've been treating the animals in their care. Are they interested in finding out more about you and in helping to select a good match, or are they officious and/or insensitive to your situation and desires? Their attitude will aid or hinder your efforts to find the right pet.

Focus on the Dogs

What kind of animal ends up in a dog shelters and dog rescues, anyway? Disobedient, hyperactive, vicious dogs that dig in your flowerbeds and scare away visitors? Well, maybe, but that's not the norm. Okay, maybe these dogs have uncaring, cruel owners who starve and beat the dogs before dropping them off to be killed. Unfortunately, there may be a few of this class of individuals in the world. However in most cases, loving owners who believe they have no other options hesitantly drop off animals. People get sick, face unexpected financial hardships, move to a new house, have children, develop allergies, or any number of situations. Life happens, and people have to make adjustments. The dog, sadly, must go.

In some cases, first time pet owners are ill equipped for the demands and expenses involved with owning a pet. They might not properly research the breed and not be prepared for the time it takes to groom their new pet or exercise it. In some cases, simple obedience training would be all it takes for a puppy and its owner to get along.

Regardless of how they got there, these animals need your help and crave love and attention.

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