How to Find and Adopt a Rescue Dog

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Dogs playing tug-o-war
Eddie and Maggie playing tug-o-war

This article was updated on 02/20/20.

There’s no doubt about it—people love their pets. The most common pets are dogs and cats. How they go about selecting and acquiring their pets varies. Usually, one of the following methods are used.

  • Taking ownership from a friend or acquaintance. This happens when the current owner moves, loses interest, or simply can’t care for the animal properly any longer.
  • Buying one from a pet store. The problem with this method is that the buyer always runs the risk of getting an animal from a puppy mill. Not only does this often come with potential inherited health issues but the puppy mill industry is usually just a legal form of animal abuse.
  • Buying from a local breeder. This is a good solution if you want a pure-bred animal but it can be quite expensive.
  • Adopting an animal from a shelter. These are often referred to as “rescue animals” and in my mind this is the preferred method. It may be my imagination but these animals seem to appreciate being saved from life in a caged setting or often euthanasia. This blog post focuses on this method, with dog adoption in particular since that is my experience.
Dachshund and rat terrier on guard duty
Dachshund and rat terrier on guard duty

Adopting a Rescue Dog—the Process

Rescue dogs find themselves in the “system” in a number of ways. They might be strays, drop-offs, or victims of animal abuse. Once they enter the system they are relegated to municipal dog pounds, shelters, or foster homes.

Today the process of selecting your future pet is easier than ever, right from the comfort of your own home. This is because most shelters and rescue organizations have websites complete with photos and descriptions. You can narrow down your selection before making a physical trip.

Actually, this works out well for people like me. When I walk by the kennels and they are all barking for attention I’m the kind of guy that “wants to take them all home.”

There is likely to be an adoption fee; $50 dollars or so is not unusual. This fee covers things like shelter upkeep, heartworm treatment, and neutering or spaying. Still, this is a small price to pay considering that most of shelter workers are volunteers. And what can you say about foster homes? Those folks are downright saintly.

Will Your New Pet Fit in?

It is extremely important that your new dog (or cat) fit in. If you already have a pet and you are just adding to your menagerie, you should arrange a “meet and greet” where the animals can do the sniffing ritual; be sure they get along.

Another consideration is whether you have small children. The shelter workers can sometimes tell you if the dog is child-compatible. However this is not always possible if the dog was a stray and its history is non-existent.

Finally, it is important to have a backyard fence. This will ensure that your dog can run around and get exercise without escaping. This serves as a great addition to your home security as it provides a burglar disincentive. Some shelters insist on it when they screen your adoption request.

My household has four rescue dogs, a Rat Terrier (Eddie), a Dachshund mix (Sammie),  a Southern Black Mouth Cur (Frankie), and a border collie (Maggie). They all get along famously.

Frankie, Southern Black Mouth Cur
Frankie, Southern Black Mouth Cur

Eddie was a no-history dog. When this happens the shelter workers simply assign the dog a name. Eddie got the moniker “Spencer.” Well, that wasn’t going to work. So, when we got him home my wife just started calling out names. When she said, “Eddie”, his ears perked up. And that’s how he got his original name back.

The bottom line is this: when considering getting a dog, a rescue dog is often the most frugal and compassionate choice. Plus it has the added advantage that the dog is often house-trained.


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

One Reply to “How to Find and Adopt a Rescue Dog”

  1. I’m considering it but want to know if a rescue dog will blend with my German Shepherd. How can you tell?

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