Adopting a Dog

Dr. John A. Giannone, who has worked in New York as chief of staff at two animal shelters and surgeon at a county shelter, gives some advice about pet adoption.

October is National Adopt a Shelter Dog month. There are many factors that should be considered when setting out to adopt a dog. Although many successful adoptions are impulsive, there are many instances when they are not successful, and pets are returned.

The adopting family has to do its due diligence before walking into a shelter. Let’s first consider the immediate environment, which is the home–is there a yard, is someone at home? We have to be willing to change our daily routine and be available to do our daily walks. Of course, there are the routine visits to the veterinarian, but are we ready to accept the financial responsibility of an emergency or critical care? Sometimes, unknowingly, a family member may have an allergy to pet hair.

The next criteria is the pet. Factors to consider would be size, gender, breed, a shedder or not, its age, and its existing medical health. Keep in mind that when it comes to breed selection that certain breeds or breed mix may be restricted from air travel and/or apartment residency. You can find this list from the airline website under traveling with a pet.

The shelter does its own due diligence, making sure that the pet is not food aggressive, how it interacts with other dogs, cats, people and gender, and especially children. Some adoptive pets have been abused and are afraid of males and suffer from mental aggressive fear (fear biters).

Fostering of pets is common now and provides a wonderful environment for the pet, and even the possibility of long-term stay with a loving family. Many breed specific rescues have previously owned pets that make terrific companions. There are so many opportunities to adopt a wide range of pets of different genetic backgrounds.

My advice is to take your time in your search.  Speak to other people who have adopted and listen to their experiences. It is a commitment which can be quite rewarding for both the family and, of course, the pet, who is waiting for a comfortable, safe place to call its home. Good Luck! –

Dr. John A. Giannone