If you’re ready to adopt a pet, you probably have your heart set on finding a puppy or young dog. Puppies are unquestionably adorable, they have their whole life ahead of them to be your loving companion and you get the chance to be a parent as well as a dog owner.
But it would be so much better if you adopted an adult dog. For every puppy that comes to a shelter, at least 20 adult dogs will be abandoned. In India, few shelters kill abandoned dogs. But they lead miserable lives – most will not be fed properly, will get a disease, will be locked inside a kennel – and die quickly. In America 60% of the 7 million dogs and cats that are abandoned every year are killed (euthanized) because they are not adopted.
The truth is that any of the pets at the shelter could be your perfect companion. With older dogs, you won’t have to deal with housebreaking your pet or dealing with the chewing phase either. Senior dogs can be great for families with kids, because they are often gentle, or for more sedentary lifestyles, because they are not likely to need as much exercise.
One reason many people don’t adopt ill or injured dogs is fear. They think the dog won’t live long or that it will be a lot of trouble to take care of or that they have been abandoned because they are “bad” dogs.
In fact less than 1% of abandoned dogs have been thrown out because they are badly behaved. I know a great “dog lover” in Kolkata who waited till his mother died and then dumped her beloved thirty dogs all over Kolkata. Most abandoned dogs are the victims of divorce, illness, allergies, a new baby, inexperienced owners, a change of city that didn't include them, kids leaving and because they got old. Some of them have been injured in accidents by careless owners or have been allowed to get ticks, fleas or mange and then abandoned when the owner cannot cope.
These dogs will love you more than ever if you love them and rescue them. You can help these dogs get better or cope with their injuries or disabilities. Most will end up being completely healthy pets after your intervention. Shelter animals can make wonderful, life-long companions if only given the chance. Animals who would like nothing more a second chance at a happy life and their own human family.
If the dog has been abandoned because he/she has a behaviour problem , this probably means it has been abused or neglected along the way. They can be easily retrained with a little effort and love.
You save money as well. Shelter pets are far less expensive than those you would find at the illegal breeders and pet shops. Animals in shelters are checked, vaccinated, de-wormed, and spay/neuter surgery is usually included. You get a free dog as well as the gratitude of the shelter and its support and guidance if you have questions.
Not only do you save a life, but you also combat pet over-population. No new puppies have to be born in order for you to get a pet. The sad thing is that while breeders are producing puppies for the rich, there are thousands that are becoming homeless by the day. There are far too many homeless pets than there are loving homes to care for them. When you adopt a shelter dog, you free up the money and staff of the shelter to look after another needy animal waiting to be adopted.
Think about it : a pet that is already trained and doesn’t chew or scratch everything in sight — a pet who will love and understand you immediately. I have 24 dogs in my house, all of them were adults when they came in, and all of them had been abandoned in the shelter. I took only the badly behaved ones and the ones that had been beaten day in and day out. Not one of them has been less than perfectly behaved. Julie is our latest addition : she is a large Spitz who was thrown out because she jumped on every visitor to greet them. She has stopped doing that here and has become a great friend and shadow of the cook. Anyone who has ever lived with a senior pet will tell you that living with a senior dog or cat (I wish I could have both) is one of the most rewarding relationships they have ever had; their amazing comprehension of your tone and body language. Seniors manage to be grateful, protective and as eager to please as when they were pups. At the same time, they are silly and sweet and heartbreakingly loyal.
Adopting a senior pet is like fast forwarding to the best part. Past the destructive puppyhood, the piddle all over the house, the chewed up shoes, the unending exercise, rain or shine. You just get to be the hero you always wanted to be to the cat or dog that just wants to spend its days sitting in the sun and lying by your side. It's amazing how they just fit in.
Senior animals that are dumped in a shelter are like old people who have been taken to a country where they do not speak the language. They have no idea where they are or why their people would do that to them. They can't express to the people in the shelter all of the things they know, what they have learned over the years. They can't let a potential adopter know that all they want is a place on the floor by your feet, or a nice cushion on the couch and some food and an occasional tubby rub. They did nothing wrong. They aren't sick, they have many years left and they don't need much.
So, if you can save an adult, it is so important, and so easy. And it's an honourable and generous way to save a very loving companion from a confusing and a horribly frightening situation they don't deserve.
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact email@example.com, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org
*Proper wildlife rehabilitation is an extremely biologically and ecologically responsible attitude toward all living things.*