My parents always advised me never to buy a used car, because I would just be buying “somebody else’s problems.” Unfortunately, that’s how some people view rescue pets – as pets that weren’t wanted because they had problems and didn’t make good companions.
In the vast majority of cases, that’s just not true! Most dogs who come into rescue are not given up because they were “bad dogs” or have behavioural problems. Unfortunately, many people buy pets without thinking about the time, effort, and expense involved in keeping them. These pets end up in shelters, along the side of the road, or if they’re lucky – in rescue.
In fact, the most common reasons a pet ends up with a rescue organization include the following:
- The owners don’t have time for the pet.
- The owners find that they can’t afford either basic vet care or the expense involved in treating an illness or injury.
- The owner dies or goes into a nursing home.
- The owners divorce and neither party can keep the pet. (You would be amazed at how many pets end up in rescue as the result of a divorce!)
- A young couple has a child and no longer has time for the pet, or the pet no longer fits into their “lifestyle.”
- The owner is moving to an apartment building that doesn’t allow pets.
This is not to say that all rescue pets come with perfect manners, perfectly socialized and housebroken. The pets who have been neglected and abandoned need training and gentle discipline – but so do all the puppies & kittens people buy! And a rescue pet usually needs much less training than a baby pet.
Another myth is that rescue pets are, by definition, inferior to pets bought from a breeder or pet store. Pets who are rescued came originally from show breeders, pet stores, and hobby breeders – pretty much everywhere. They are a cross-section of the pet population, and, as such, are no more or less likely to have genetic problems than any other pet.
But I Want a Particular Breed!
Purebred pets – Don’t shy away from considering adoption of a pet from a shelter because you have a preference for a specific breed. About 25 percent to 30 percent of shelter populations are purebreds. If you’re looking for a specific breed, contact or visit your local animal shelter or breed rescue group and ask them to contact you should a pet of that breed becomes available.
Designer dogs – People spend big money on labradoodles, spoodles and other “designer dogs” when their local shelter is full to the brim with the exact same cross breed dogs. Except the shelter likely calls the labradoodle by its true name – a poodle X!
Reasons to Choose a Rescue Dog or Cat
Those of us who volunteer in rescue all have at least one rescue and we know what terrific pets they can be! Here are some reasons to consider a rescue if you are ready to add a new pet to your family.
You’re not starting from scratch with an older pet – When you buy a puppy, you’re essentially bringing an infant into your home… a completely untrained, unsocialised little critter who thinks the crate you bought for him is a jail (and who cries to get out… at 3 AM!), the newspaper you put down for him to squat on is a wonderful toy to be shredded, your new shoes are much tastier than rawhide, and your best carpet is an excellent substitute for grass when nature calls!
Most rescue dogs have been house dogs in the past, come with some basic manners and may have even been living with a foster family to teach them the ropes.
An older cat most likely will be content being alone – a perfect match for someone who has an active lifestyle.
The bond is strong – Contrary to the belief that an adult dog cannot bond with a new family, a dog that has been abandoned once is usually eager to become part of a loving pack, where they feel safe and secure, and are likely to act accordingly. We find that rescue dogs are generally eager to please their new owners. Animals rescued from puppy mills often want to be in your lap at all times and will follow you from room to room, just to be near you.
Adult cats may sleep at the foot of your bed, in a cozy spot in your bedroom or under your bed. A kitten will most likely run around all night climbing and play attacking anything low enough to jump on – including you.
Fewer vet fees – Rescue pets have had physical examinations, have been desexed and are up to date on shots. When you buy a puppy or kitten, you pay for the pet AND for the vaccinations, desexing and other medical expenses.
What you see is what you get – When you buy a baby pet, you can never really be sure what type of adult you’re going to get.
All puppies are cute and playful, but their adult personalities aren’t visible until they’re about two years old. So you don’t know whether you’re getting a dog who wants to play all the time (ALL the time!) or a couch potato. When you rescue a dog, you know what the dog’s personality is like and whether it fits with what you want in a dog companion. You also know in advance about any problem areas you, as the new owner, will have to address.
A cat’s personality has already been developed by the time it’s one year old. A lap cat will continue to be a lap cat and it is easy to determine if the new cat will work out in a multi-cat household. With an adult cat, you definitely know what you’re getting.
Adult pets are generally better for families – Adult pets generally are better with kids. Pups and kittens can play rough and cause harm to children by biting, nipping or scratching. When excited, large breed pups can knock children over accidentally. Children sometimes handle animals too roughly and can cause harm.
Adult pets are more mellow and more able to get themselves out of harms way and because of this are often more patient with children.
It teaches your kids good values – Face it – we live in an extremely materialistic society, in which TV teaches kids that everything can be bought, that they should get their parents to buy them everything, and that anything worth having costs a lot of money. Adopting a rescue pet for your family presents a wonderful opportunity to teach your children basic values of compassion and caring, and also about the value of second chances.
Why Aren’t Rescue Pets Free?
We are asked this question frequently. Some people think that, since they are willing to take a homeless dog or cat off our hands, they should be given the pet without an adoption fee.
Well, that would be nice, and in a perfect world, it would be possible. But vet care for rescue pets costs money, which our members must recover, at least in part, in order to go on rescuing. Each pet must have a physical examination, receive any required vaccinations, be desexed and, for dogs, be tested for heartworm. The rescuer pays for these procedures out of her or his own pocket.
For the most part, the adoption fees reflect the basic medical expenses incurred for the pet. If that pet had any extra medical treatment, it’s likely that the fee you are charged won’t cover these costs and the rescue will actually be out of pocket.
Please keep this fact in mind: The adoption fee for an rescue pet is usually somewhere between $50 and $300. The going rate for a pet store puppy that, in all likelihood came from a puppy mill, is between $400 and $700. A kitten up to $100. And you still have to pay for vaccinations, microchipping and desexing on top of that. Rescue pets are a bargain!
OK, I’m convinced – where do I sign?
Adopting a pet is a great joy and a huge responsibility, so shouldn’t be taken lightly. Examining your lifestyle and household is critical to making a good adoption match.
- If you travel a lot and work long hours away from home, it’s probably not the right time for you to adopt. If your schedule keeps you busy, adopting an adult cat might be the best option for you.
- If you’re planning a major lifestyle change – marriage, moving or a new baby – hold off on adopting until things settle down in your life. Marriage, moving and new babies are the primary reasons pets are relinquished to the RSPCA and other shelters.
- Pets can be expensive; food, pet supplies, grooming, and veterinary bills that can easily reach hundreds of dollars. Are you prepared to pay for everything your pet needs for the next 10-15 years?
I’m still keen – what should I expect and how do I find a good rescue group?
Before adopting, you will probably be screened. Most rescue groups conduct thorough interviews before allowing you to adopt an animal in their care. This might seem intimidating, but it’s actually also your chance to screen the rescue group!
There are plenty of people and organisations who claim to be rescue. Some are fantastic; how do you tell?
Signs of a good rescue group:
- They are willing to spend time discussing your requirements, lifestyle and expectations. They should be happy to address any concerns and answer any questions you have. They should also be open to you contacting them in the future for pet advice if you need it.
- They have a genuine interest for the welfare of their animals both now and in the future. There should be an adoption contract that includes a clause that you return the pet to them should the adoption not work out.
- They have an in-depth adoption screening process. While it can be intimidating to have a stranger ask personal questions, the more open and detailed you are with the group, the better able they are to match you with the right pet.
- And most importantly – Desexed, desexed, desexed! If the group is willing to give you a pet of breeding age that has not been desexed then you are not dealing with a reputable organisation interested in animal welfare. Do not do business with them
- ORIGINAL ARTICLE: http://www.petrescue.com.au/why_adopt/