Are you endlessly scrolling #shelterpetsofinstagram and #dogadoption? Have you dreamily imagined morning walks with a new best friend and stealthily stalked dog parks? You may be ready, as they say in animal rescue circles, to provide a forever home to a dog in need.
Maybe you’ve done a bit of research feel like you’re ready to bring a dog home. But let’s go over some basic prerequisites, preparations, and strategies for finding a great human/dog match.
First, the least fun consideration for bringing a dog home: money. According to the PDSA, the cost of getting a dog can vary wildly and should be considered against your available financial resources. They found that 98% of pet owners underestimated the lifetime costs of owning a dog, with 12% (2.6 million) of dog owners putting it at £500 when the true cost is between £21,000 and £33,000 depending on size and breed (source). Research by insurer More Th>n puts the monthly cost of owning a dog at between £94 and £154, depending on size and breed (source).
In addition to this, shelters and rescues will have a one-time adoption fee, up to a few hundred pounds. The exact use of adoption fee can be explained by the individual organisation, but it may cover microchipping (a legal requirement), vaccinations, the overhead for running the programme, and spaying or neutering—if the animal is old enough.
If you’re planning to bring a dog home for the first time ever, congratulations! Or if it’s been awhile, here are a few reminders.
You’ll want to consider the time commitment a new pet takes and a whole lot of other lifestyle adjustments. Going away for the weekend? You may need a dog sitter or a boarding service. Good news: we’ve got you covered! Like to sleep in? Your dog may become your new early morning alarm. Work for long hours away from home? Your dog’s bladder and/or need for attention may not comply with your work demands.
And if you don’t already have one, you may want to consider getting a really good hoover.
When considering the type of dog you want to rescue, it may be helpful to know the most common dog breeds found in shelters, which are widely reported to be Staffordshire bull terriers and mixed breeds.
When it comes down finding a good rescue match, it’s important to consider your expectations and the dog’s individual needs. You may want a running partner. The dog may need a lot of social interaction. Maybe you can’t offer a lot of outdoor space. The dog may not do well with young kids or cats.
Often, there’s good information about breed-specific adoptions, such as if you are considering a greyhound. Look into this information if you’re considering a particular breed.
Age may be one of the most significant considerations when seeking out your perfect rescue dog. Depending on the dog’s breed and health, get ready for commitment! Dogs can live for fifteen to twenty years.
While puppies are all kinds of fun and adorable, they also require a lot of training as well as willingness to lose a shoe, cushion, or favourite heirloom to those developing puppy teeth, not to mention the lost sleep of managing all that energy.
Because puppies are the easiest age of dog to find homes for, if you can, consider an older dog. Even dogs as young as two years old are much more in need of adoption.
Rescues and shelters exist because there are, sadly, too many unwanted animals in the world. Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, estimate that 130,000 dogs enter UK rehoming charities each year.
As a future adopter, you are helping to free up a spot for another dog to be saved from the street or from a shelter where they could be put down. Yay!
Unfortunately, dogs can have a harder time finding a home due to breed perceptions, advanced age, and/or special medical needs. We can tell you all of the reasons we love Staffies, but the breed still often receives ill-educated media coverage.
If you have some flexibility, why not consider taking in a breed with more restrictions?
Because they may have advanced health issues, or even just being less physically appealing, older dogs don’t get adopted as often as their more spry fellows. There are of course lots of reasons for giving your love, and a place in your home, to an older dog.
There are a vast array of dog rescue organisations out there and finding the right place for your adoption experience will be important. There are breed-specific centres, rescues run out of homes by big-hearted volunteers, and full-blown nonprofit organisations.
Rescuers may not know much about your potential pet. Some may have high adoption rates, with fast turnover and lower screening requirements, so they won’t know the pets in their care very well. Others may have extensive screening requirements, such as home visits, and spend time getting to know the needs and specifics of the dogs they are adopting out.
Select the organisation you are comfortable with and that can provide the level of support you will need through the adoption process. If you’re a renter, always expect the adopting organisation to contact your landlord for proof that your lease agreement allows dogs.
When you arrive at the shelter, you will be offered a chance to meet the dog or dogs you’re interested in. You may even be able to take them out on a short walk.
Keep in mind that dogs are generally not themselves in the shelter environment. If the dog has been in a foster home, you may be able to ask the foster family about the dog’s personality. Keeping an open mind when meeting dogs may lead to an exciting match—your perfect rescue dog may not be the dog you expected.
We can’t wait to see your new dog settled in with you at home. Please post a pic on our social media!