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Adopting a Puppy from an Animal Shelter

There was a time when I thought that humane societies, animal shelters, and rescue organizations were only filled with 'bad' adult dogs - dogs who were broken somehow, whether with physical problems or behavioral problems. Then I started volunteering at one ... and learned that not only are there all sorts of amazing pets there, both mixed breed and purebred, but you could even !

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Here are a few things to think about when adopting a puppy from a shelter:

  • The shelter probably doesn't have any background information on the puppy's parents. They can make a guess about breed(s) and may even have information on the mother dog, if she came into the shelter pregnant.

    However, chances are they will have no way of knowing for sure how big the puppy will get or what he'll look like when he grows up (if these things are important to you, consider one of the many lovely adult dogs waiting for a home). Likewise, the shelter likely won't have any background health information about the puppies beyond what they find out during the physical exam when the puppies are brought in.

  • There may be a waiting list for puppies. There are many people who prefer to adopt puppies over adult dogs. Sometimes puppies get adopted very quickly and a waiting list develops.

    Even if you have your heart set on a young puppy, how about considering an adolescent instead? Dogs less than a year but past that 'chubby puppy stage' are often overlooked.

  • If you're a renter, you may be asked for proof that your landlord will specifically allow a puppy. Some landlords will permit adult dogs but will not allow puppies. Here is a list of documents that you should be prepared to bring to the shelter with you to assist in any type of adoption. Be sure to check the shelter's website to see if there are any others.

    If your heart is set on adopting a puppy but your landlord won't permit it, then you'll have to find a new place to live. Here are some tips on finding pet-friendly housing rentals.

  • Remember, puppies will be puppies! Be prepared for them to chew inappropriate objects and have accidents ... for them to test their limits (and yours!) and to have to learn to be well-mannered house pets.

    Too many dogs are dumped at shelters after they've outgrown their cute puppy looks, or when they become too much for the adopter to handle. Adopting a puppy, any puppy, requires a commitment to be patient and teach your furry little pup what is expected of them. Give them time to understand and make learning a fun and positive game.

If you're looking to expand your family with a new four-legged friend, adopting a puppy from a shelter is a great option. You'll be giving a pet a home, instead of purchasing a puppy from a pet store, who then sources new puppies to fill the demand. There are many wonderful pets waiting at shelters all over the world, just looking for that special family to walk in and take them home. Adopt... don't shop!