So you are thinking about adopting a new friend. To help in your decision to adopt, please read the tips below.

Do you have enough time to devote to your new pet? Pets need daily interaction, training, and exercise.  A securely fenced yard is preferred, but is not a substitute for interacting with your pet. Dogs need at least 1-2 walks every day even when it is icy or very hot outside.

If you live in an apartment or rent a house, check the rules for pet ownership. Many apartments have size limitations or breed-related restrictions. You may also be required to pay an additional deposit and increase your monthly rent.

If you work long hours, who will care for your pet during the day? A pet left alone for long hours may not adjust well.  Research doggie day cares or pet walkers in your area to help.

How active are you? Your pet’s activity level should match your lifestyle.

Have you considered the medical costs of owning a dog or cat? Dogs and cats adopted from Southside SPCA are already spayed/neutered, have received immunizations as well as feline leukemia/feline HIV screening for cats and heartworm screening for dogs. Heartworms are prevalent in Virginia. The Southside SPCA treats all dogs with preventive and adopters should keep them on monthly preventive and have annual screenings.

Adopters are responsible for keeping their dogs vaccinated against rabies as well as licensing their pet in their municipality. In addition, most counties have limits on the number of pets per household/leash laws/tethering laws/noise ordinances to consider.

Where will your dog spend most of its time?  Do you have enough time to have a dog?

Dogs should not be chained or tied outside.  A dog kept chained in one spot for a prolonged period of time suffers immense psychological damage. An otherwise friendly and docile dog, when kept continuously chained, can become anxious and often aggressive. Dogs on a chain make easy targets for other animals, humans, and biting insects.

Dogs are social animals, and love interaction with humans. Make sure that you can give your dog sufficient care and that you have enough time to walk and play with your dog.  Animals should be kept inside, supervised outside in a fenced yard or on a leash at all times.

Where will your cat spend most of its time? Most U.S. cat experts and humane organizations are continually trying to reach the public with the message that keeping cats indoors protects them from disease and all manner of dangers. Risks of outdoor life include exposure to infectious diseases, such as feline leukemia, feline immunodeficiency virus, feline infectious peritonitis, and rabies; injury or death occurring on busy roads; and attacks by predators. Not only does keeping cats indoors protect their health, it also protects the lives of countless birds that often fall prey to cats. In fact, cats and other predators have severely reduced the populations of certain songbirds – almost to the point of extinction. In addition to these benefits, people who keep their cats indoors say they have deeper and more satisfying relationships with their cats.


Benefits of Adopting an Adult Dog

In a Word — Housebroken. With most family members gone during the work week for 8 hours or more, housetraining a puppy and its small bladder can take awhile. Puppies need a consistent schedule with frequent opportunities to eliminate where you want them to. They can’t wait for the boss to finish his meeting or the kids to come home from after-school activities. An older dog can “hold it” much more reliably for longer time periods, and sometimes rescued dog have been previously housebroken.

A Good Night’s Sleep. Forget the alarm clocks and hot water bottles, a puppy can be very demanding at 2:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. He misses his littermates, and that stuffed animal will not make a puppy pile with him. If you have children, you’ve been there and done that. How about a little peace and quiet? How about an older rescue dog??

Finish the Newspaper. Do you think you will be able to relax when you get home from work with a puppy? Will your kids really feed him, clean up the messes, take him for a walk in the pouring rain every hour to get him housetrained? With an adult dog, it will only be the kids running amok, because your dog will be sitting calmly next to you, while your workday stress flows away and your blood pressure lowers as you pet him.

Easier Vet Trips. Those puppies need their series of puppy shots, then their rabies shot, then a trip to be altered, maybe an emergency trip or two if they’ve chewed something dangerous. Those puppy visits can add up. Your donation to the shelter when adopting an older pup should get you a dog with all shots current, already altered, and heartworm negative at the minimum.

What You See Is What You Get. How big will that puppy be? What kind of temperament will he have? Will he be easily trained? Will his personality be what you were hoping for? How active will he be? When adopting an older dog from a rescue, all of those questions will be easier to answer. You can pick large or small; active or couch potato; goofy or brilliant; sweet or sassy. The shelter’s employees and its foster homes can guide you to pick the right match.

Matchmaker Make Me a Match. Puppy love is often no more than an attachment to a look or a color. It is not much of a basis on which to make a relationship that will hopefully last 15+ years. While that puppy may have been the cutest of the litter, he may grow up to be super active (when what you wanted was a couch buddy); she may be a couch princess (when what you wanted was a tireless hiking companion); he may want to spend every waking moment in the water (while you’re a landlubber); or she may want to be an only child (while you are intending to have kids or more animals). Pet mis-matches are one of the top reasons rescues get “give-up” phone calls. Good shelters do extensive evaluating of both their dogs and their applicants to be sure that both dog and family will be happy with each other until death do them part.

Rescue Dogs Bond. Dogs that have been uprooted from their happy homes or have not had the best start in life are more likely to bond deeply with their new people. Those who have lost their families through death, divorce or lifestyle change go through a terrible mourning process.  Those dogs that are just learning about the good life and good people seem to bond even deeper. They know what life on the streets or life on the end of a chain is all about.  They revel and blossom in a nurturing, loving environment. Most rescued dogs make exceptionally affectionate and attentive pets and extremely loyal companions.

Unfortunately, many folks think dogs that end up in shelters are all genetically and behaviorally inferior. But, it is not uncommon for shelters to get pure bred dogs that have either outlived their usefulness or their novelty with impulsive pet guardians who considered their dog a possession rather than a friend or member of the family. Sometimes, dogs are given up because previous owners did not really consider the time, effort and expense needed to be a dog caretaker. Not all breeders will accept “returns”, so choices for giving up dogs can be limited to animal welfare organizations, such as shelters, or the guardians trying to place their own dogs. Good shelters will evaluate the dog before accepting him/her (medically and behaviorally), rehabilitate if necessary, and adopt the animal only when he/she is ready and to a home that matches and is realistic about the commitment necessary to provide the dog with the best home possible.

Beyond doing a “good deed”, adopting a rescue dog can be the best decision and addition to the family you could ever make.

Rescue a dog and get a devoted friend for life!