Where to Find a Dog

There are a wide variety of places to look for an adult dog.  Your town probably has an animal shelter, maybe a couple.  There are many different types of rescue groups.  The majority of them in my experience are very good but some are awful. Be careful. There are a few rescue groups (or individuals) who are more like hoarders than rescues.  There are some well meaning people who rescue animals they cannot afford to take care of and then need to find homes for them without vetting or any health testing.  Sometimes these people charge as much for adoption fees as a well run shelter that provides a lot of services.  Be careful.

If you are looking for a dog of a particular breed, start with breed rescues. You can Google these.  You can contact a parent club of a breed too. For example, the Poodle Club of America will be able to direct you to some poodle rescue organizations.

Purebreds make up about 25% of shelter dogs so your local shelter may have the dog you want, or a mix of the dog you want and something else.  If you are not familiar with PetFinder, it’s a must.   I just went to PetFinder and typed in my zip code. Under animal I entered Dog and under breed I entered Poodle. I found that there is a poodle/shih tzu mix in the town I’m in.  There are about 7 poodles within 2 hours of my home and another 7 poodle mixes within the same distance.

Pet Finder advertises dogs from many different rescue organizations (and there are some who don’t appear on Pet Finder) There are no dogs for sale here.  There are adoption fees which vary as do the requirements for adoption. Some places will only adopt out to locals, others welcome long distance adopters.  You’ll get enough information with each dog to give you an idea where to go or who to contact next.

Most animal shelters and rescue organizations that I’m familiar with will make sure that a dog (or cat) is spayed or neutered before it leaves their facility except in the instance when the animal is too young in which case they will usually give a voucher for a free spay or neuter (and require you to have it done).  The animal will have been tested for heartworm and either found negative or treated and will be up to date on shots. He will also have been vet checked and found healthy OR you will be apprised of any special needs he has. Not all organizations do all of this. Make sure before you look at dogs what services are or will be performed.  Adoption fees vary widely and I have seen them range from $60 to $250 and more. Generally I see fees of around $100. When the aforementioned services have been performed it can make a dog from such a place less expensive than a free dog from a home where none of this has been done.

Newspapers and Craig’s List:  You can often find dogs who need new homes listed in newspapers and CraigsList.  Sometimes the perfect pet awaits you for free, other times you find someone who was not only so irresponsible that they got a dog they won’t keep but they’ll lie about him to get you to take him off their hands, for a fee.

When adopting an adult dog you want as much info about the dog as you can get.  (Our next article is about what questions to ask.)  If a dog has been in a foster home sponsored by a thorough rescue organization you may be able to get a lot of information about the dog.  If a person has to let their beloved pet go because they have gotten sick or too old to care for them you can get tons of information and possibly even establish an ongoing relationship (which may be as hugely beneficial to the former owner as to the dog).   I recently needed to find a home for one of my beloved dogs.  (Skidget started fighting and I believed all my dogs would do best if we found her a home where she would be the only dog.) I would only consider giving her to a person who agreed to stay in touch with me and keep me updated on her progress. I don’t want to interfere in this woman’s life but I need to know that my Skidget is living happily ever after and to take her back and make other arrangements for her if it ever became necessary.

One of the things that can undermine all our plans about finding the right dog is our own emotions. You can walk into an animal shelter with a list of criteria and walk out with a dog who meets none of it but was due to be put down tomorrow and you felt the need to save it. Try to be realistic. Some dog owners can do this and have it work out fine. Most can’t. There are so many homeless dogs and you cannot save them all. That is a sad fact but it also means that there are dogs out there that will be perfectly suited to you and your situation if you keep looking and don’t act on impulse.

Serge Orloff, Pender’s person says: “PENDER was adopted by me on February 22 2010, we just celebrated his 2nd birthday on March 5 2010. I must Thank the wonderful people at Southern California Labrador Retriever Rescue for uniting me with such a mellow, laid back and well trained AKC registered Red English Labrador, Everyday with him is like a box of CRACKER JACKS!!!!!”

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