The process of adopting a dog has certainly evolved over the past nearly 200 years. But what people have unwaveringly from the 19th century until today is the desire to protect animals and embrace that feeling of love when their search leads them to find and adopt THE dog.
I know this feeling. Five years ago, and after more than a year of searching, I found Kona. She was a shy terrier mix on a kennel owned by the Rancho Coastal Humane Society in Escondido, California. Her bio stated that she was friendly and definitely needed a home with other dogs. She saw me, got up quietly, and pressed her body against the front of her cage. Then she gave my hand a gentle kiss.
No words can describe the instant connection we both felt – a feeling many of you are familiar with during your adoption searches as well. Kona passed every temperament test I gave her at the shelter, including a big one: must love cats. Kona loves and respects cats and is now an AKC Canine Good Citizen, a certified therapy dog, and my four-legged assistant on my first aid and pet behavior classes. And she is my best friend. It was worth the long search.
© Mark Rogers | markrogersphotography.com
A look back at the adoptions
Today, especially since the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, adoptions in public and private animal shelters are increasing everywhere. The question arises: When and where did the world’s first animal welfare society exist?
Historical records show that the first began in England. A group of men who want to protect animals from cruelty met on June 16, 1824 at the Old Slaughter’s Coffee House in London to take steps to establish the Society for the Protection of Animals.
The group struggled financially and politically until 1837 when the future Queen Victoria became a patron. When she became queen, it became the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals. Among other things, this stimulated interest in creating ways to protect animals in other British cities. Around the turn of the century, animal welfare associations were set up in neighboring Germany, Austria, France, Belgium and Holland. Today the RSPCA (rspca.org.uk) is the largest and oldest charity in the world. Its main responsibilities are to rescue, rehabilitate and restore animals in England and Wales.
And for you die-hard history buffs, the first such society to be formed in the United States was in New York City in 1866. While working as a diplomat in Russia in 1863, a New Yorker named Henry Bergh stepped in and stopped a coachman from hitting his fallen horse. It made such an impact on Henry that he gave up his diplomatic post, returned to New York City, and founded the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (aspca.org) in 1866.
Animal rescue and shelter programs have changed dramatically over the years, with many “premieres” and incredible contributions aimed at making homes for all homeless pets forever. Dogster has created a timeline recognizing these important contributions that we are constantly updating.
Read “The History of Dog Adoption and Rescue in the United States” on dogster.com.
There are many options for adoption today
Back to the present, there are so many more ways to adopt a dog in need of a home, including:
✤ Make an appointment at your local animal shelter / rescue service
✤ Go to your district animal care center and select from found dogs that are now available for adoption
✤ Attend a meet and greet event for local animal adoption
✤ Contacting a breed or size specific rescue group
✤ Rescuing a stray dog from the street
✤ Taking in a dog from a family member or neighbor who can no longer look after him
✤ Search for a match online on various adoption sites around the world
And there’s an option to first agree to groom a dog and assess how the two of you are bonded in your home before making that permanent adoption call. People who do this often meekly describe themselves as “funding failures”, but in reality these are “funding failures” because they took the time to make sure the game works for them and the dogs.
There are also non-profit groups run by the likes of Carla Naden. In 2013, she founded Animal Synergy in San Diego. This is a rescue, rehabilitation and refuge for dogs and other pets who are elderly, have special medical or physical problems, or are terminally ill.
“We are the voice for the most vulnerable and misunderstood animals in our shelter systems and in our society,” says Carla, inspired by a shelter dog named Nugget who has to be euthanized in a shelter. “He changed my life and I will work every day in honor of his memory.”
© CBCK-Christine | Getty Images
Be patient – it’s a process
In shelters and rescue teams, expect to fill out lots of forms. There will be questions about your dog’s history, current pets and children in the household, whether you rent or own, and other areas. The organizations ask these questions to reduce the likelihood that the dog will have to be returned to the adoption center.
You may also need to hold meet and greets, both at the rescue and later on a home visit that gives you and your family the chance to hang out with the dog. There may be a home inspection to make sure you are who you say you are (and not a reseller or someone who wants the dog for something like dog fighting) to make sure there is a fenced yard, no hazards for pets, etc. The organization can do a reference check, especially with your current vet if you have one. Your veterinarian can assure you that your current pets are all up to date on their vaccines, medications, and annual checkups, and that your future dog is receiving the same kind of great care.
There is also usually an adoption fee. This helps offset the cost of housing microchips, neutering / neutering, caring for health issues, and more. Sometimes the adoption fee is reduced (especially if the dog is a senior or has special needs) or waived for a special purpose.
Before starting the adoption process, do some research about the organization so that you know what to expect from it and what to expect from you. Once you’ve completed the process, you’ll need to sign an adoption contract. Aside from agreeing to basic care, you may be asked to neuter or neuter your new pet if you haven’t already Bring the dog to the vet within a certain time for any vaccinations and sometimes even promise to give the dog especially taking a puppy to training classes.
Nowadays, adoption from most animal shelters is a process that includes meetings and greetings, paperwork, home visits, reference checks, and an adoption fee to ensure the dog fits properly and reduce the likelihood of the dog being returned. © SDI Productions | Getty Images
Time for dog school
OK, you sealed the deal. You have adopted a dog. Once the “honeymoon” season is over, you will find that your dog is, well, not a perfect dog. His previous experiences (living situation, time in the animal shelter) have shaped him. He may be slow to house-train, insist on chewing your shoes, or basic dog obedience instructions such as sitting or staying unrestrained.
If you are adopting a dog, it is a good idea to have a trainer examine him for problems and create a training program for you. Or even let the trainer prepare you for the new dog’s arrival: go through things like the potty area, where he’ll be spending his time, the house dog exam, basic training, and introduction to other household members like kids and other pets.
Help is also available in renowned dog training centers.
“The most common problem we see is reactivity with other dogs,” says Maureen Godmother, founder and certified professional dog trainer at What A Great Dog in Frisco and Richardson, Texas. “A good exercise program can make all the difference when it comes to helping your new dog integrate smoothly into your family.”
Her center works closely with several shelter and rescue groups at the DallasFort Worth Metroplex. Regardless of where you live or how much canine knowledge you have, you should sign up for an exercise program, advises Maureen.
“Look for a trainer who is certified by a reputable organization and who uses the most up-to-date training methods that include behavioral science and uses positive results to help change your dog’s behavior,” she says.
A family member
The adoption process takes some time and effort, but it is worth it in the end. During my own adoption search, I kept the words of “America’s Family Vet” Dr. Marty Becker in the head.
“Take your time. Choose with a goal. Don’t choose a dog based on looks alone. Choose a dog that suits you and your lifestyle. After all, you will likely have this dog longer than your current job, your current place of residence.” , Your current car and maybe even your current relationship. “