The Realities of Adopting a Dog

Every shelter dog comes with their own life story. Some of them had a pretty good life with their past owners, while others went through abuse and may be terrified of interacting with humans.

When adopting a dog, it is important to remember they come from all different environments. Some of them were loved, many of them less so. Before adopting you need to analyze the pros and cons. How much time can you devote to the new family member and what kind of care you can offer?

It is also important to analyze what kind of dog will fit your lifestyle. Young? Older with an active temperament? Or one that is calmer and does not need a lot of exercises? Be honest with yourself about what would be a good fit for you.

When you contact a shelter or a rescue group, be upfront with them about your environment and your preferences.

Employees or volunteers at the shelter, or in some cases foster families, are the ones who know the dogs best. They become familiar with their temperament, needs, and issues. This makes them the best people to successfully match you with a lifelong companion.

Where to Adopt From

When it comes to your choices of where to adopt from, you have several options. If you are looking for a specific breed, it’s a good idea to look for a rescue group that specializes in that breed. Depending on your area and desired breed this may be easy to find locally, but in some areas, you may need to expand your search.

 If you have no preference, you can adopt from any local shelter or a rescue group. Some rescue groups have physical locations, while others place their dogs with foster families.

Depending on your area, you may also need to decide whether you will be adopting from a kill shelter or a no-kill rescue. Kill shelters typically receive a high volume of animals and because of limited resources and funding euthanize animals that are not adopted.

Adopting a dog from a kill shelter is often a simple process. They usually require you to fill out a one page application, pay a fee and you can take the dog with you the same day.

Adopting from a rescue may be a longer and possibly more expensive process. They do a lot of extra work to make sure that once they place a dog with a family, it will be a forever home. Many no-kill shelters and rescues have a several step application process to match you with a dog. Some organizations also do house visits to make sure your living environment fits their requirements for adopting a dog.

Bringing Home Your New Dog

Once you finish the adoption process, you finally get to take your new furry friend home! Before they arrive, make sure that your house is prepared to welcome the new member of the family.

Choose where your dog will sleep and have a bed prepared, along with food, some toys, and treats. Since the dog has moved from his prior family to a shelter and now to your house, this may be a lot of change for them.

If possible, consider taking time off and spending the first few days or a week with your new pet. This will help them to get used to a new environment and give you time to teach him the new rules of the house. Remember that some dogs from shelters may need to be socialized with humans as well as other dogs. They need to learn that no one is going to hurt them and that interacting with humans is a great, positive experience.

You may need to put extra work into helping them to overcome their past and live a happy life with your family. It’s always helpful to find an experienced dog trainer to help you deal with any issues your dog may have.

A Second Chance

I think we all understand that by adopting a dog we are giving them a second chance in life. According to the ASPCA, 7.6 million pets in the United States enter shelters each year, out of which 2.7 million are euthanized. The statistics are staggering— healthy, adoptable dogs and cats are put down every 12 seconds in this country.

This cruel reality takes place in your own community, in every state, every city, in every high kill shelter. Don’t hesitate when it comes to deciding whether to adopt your next pet— save a life.

How to Find an Animal Shelter

Ready to expand your family by adopting a furry friend and need help finding the right rescue organization in your area? Here are some resources to help you: is North America’s largest nonprofit pet search site. They help thousands of animal shelters, humane societies, SPCAs, pet rescue groups, and pet adoption agencies find loving homes for homeless pets.

If you looking to adopt from any shelter the ASPCA site is a great resource. Visit their site at

Many organizations also list their dogs on the Petfinder website. Visit them at

Additionally, is proud to help support animal rescues and shelters through our Rescue Spotlight program. See the shelters we’ve highlighted here.

About the Author

Mira Alicki is a jewelry designer and goldsmith for the past 22 years. Her passion for animals led her to create her own line of jewelry and online store to benefit charities. 40% of each purchase is donated back to the animal community. You can find Mira on Twitter (@FIMHjewelry) or Forever In My Heart.