In the following pages, we will explain what, why, and how to rescue your next furry family member.
What does it mean to Rescue/Adopt an animal?
Rescuing is when a person or shelter takes in a stray, abandoned, or abused animal.
What is a Shelter?
There are numerous shelters all over Los Angeles County. A Shelter is a facility where Animal Control temporarily houses stray animals. If an animal's family does not come for it in seven days, then it will be put up for adoption. Almost all shelter dogs and cats, at one time, had a home. Many pure breed and mixed breed dogs, cats, and even horses may have come from expensive breeders, at one time, and are now in these cages. They are suffering, scared and lonely due to their irresponsible owners.
Why get an animal from a Shelter?
These are animals that, through no fault of their own, are left in a helpless situation. If they are not claimed by their prior owner or rescued by someone, their ultimate fate is certain death. Rescuing is the purest and most rewarding experience you can possibly have with an animal.
Every time I look at my dog, I know that she is saying "thank you" for saving my life. A rescued animal forms an intense bond with its new family. The bond is difficult to explain but it is an intense experience for both the rescuer and the animal.
Misconceptions of Shelters
The misconception of an animal shelter is that the animals are there because there is something wrong with them or that they are unsociable. In reality, these unfortunate animals are often put in shelters because someone is moving, getting a divorce or the animal just got out and was lost. Many people buy a pet on impulse and then realize it was more work than they really wanted. Other people buy a cute little puppy without realizing that it is going to grow up to be a big dog. I have even heard of a Labrador Retriever that was brought to a shelter and euthanized because it "was too friendly."
In fact, many shelter dogs are so exceptional that they have been used in commercials and films. For example, the dog in The Grinch that Stole Christmas was from a shelter. Benji was also from a shelter. Many rescued animals go on to rescue, protect and serve man. Some rescue dogs end up in the police K-9 unit. Others go on to be search and rescue dogs and have saved countless lives. Still others are trained to find bombs, drugs and lost people.
The trainers of seeing eye-dogs, hospital dogs and working dogs for the handicapped find many of their students in the shelters. Talk about giving back!!!!!
Another misconception is that the shelter is a sad or scary place. It's true that there is a lot of barking or an occasional spat, but, can you blame them when they are abandoned, scared and crammed into a room full of a bunch of strangers (what would you do)? The only real sadness is when no one comes to rescue these beautiful, bright animals.
The city is trying their best to give these animals another chance at life. But due to the overwhelming number of animals coming to the shelters each day, the shelters simply do not have enough space to house the animals for an indefinite period of time.
Most cities have a local animal shelter. If you do not find what you are looking for in your city shelter, don't give up. Every day, new animals come in and somewhere, your perfect match will be waiting for you!!
Besides your local city shelters, there are other privately run shelter groups and rescue organizations. I'll explain those in a minute.
If the animal is already spayed or neutered the animal is sometimes free of cost. Otherwise, it may cost around $72.00, depending on the shelter and the animal's needs, which includes spay or neutering and may also include the first veterinary visit for free. In addition, you receive a bag with training tips, coupons and necessary vaccinations to prevent illness and diseases.
What if I can't get to a Shelter?
Some shelters and many rescue groups post pictures of their animals on their websites. If you know an exact breed that you are looking for or just want to view pictures of dogs and cats in shelters, you can also go to www.petfinder.com. Petfinder allows you to view the various dogs and cats that are in the local animal shelters. This way you can scan the city for the particular type of dog or cat that you want. It's a fast and easy way to cover a lot of ground, and you can do it on your home computer.
Pure Breed Rescues
A Pure Breed Rescue is a non-profit or volunteer organization who specializes in a particular breed. For almost every breed of dog there is a rescue. For cats, most rescue groups have pure breeds and exotic cats, but they don't necessarily specialize in any one type.
When going to a breeder, you can easily spend over $1,000 on a pure breed dog or cat. The rescue groups have the same animals but only require a donation, usually $300. The price includes spay or neutering and the necessary vaccinations. The donations are important because they are used to feed and give quality medical care to the animals and to cover the other expenses of running the rescues. These rescue groups will take the time to match you with the right animal for your family, as every pet is unique.
The nice thing about going to a rescue group is that they really try to get to know the dog and cat and can fill you in on specific information, e.g. is the animal good around children or how it gets along with other animals. Feel free to come often and take your time because the rescue group really wants to match you with the right animal. By the way, not that I anticipate any problem, but if there is a reason why you can't keep the animal, please take it back to the rescue group that you got it from--NOT the local animal shelter. Rescue groups are important as they are trying to ease the load from the shelters.
Mixed Breed Rescues
A mixed breed is a combination of two or more breeds. Many people think that mixed breeds are substandard animals. This is not true. In fact, there are many benefits to getting a mixed breed animal. Because of excessive inbreeding, pure breeds are prone to certain health problems that are less common in the mixed breeds. Genetically, the mixed breeds inherit the best qualities and temperament characteristics of both breeds.
What age of animal is right for you?
Everyone thinks they want a puppy or a kitten. But often a puppy or kitten may not be the best choice. You must be prepared to have the activity that comes with it. Puppies chew everything and they usually take longer to housebreak. For myself, I rescued a dog that was 2 years old. She trained quickly and was house broken in one week, even though she did have an occasional accident. I brought a trainer in right away to show me techniques to make it easier for my dog to understand what I wanted. With an older dog their personality is already developed so you know what you are dealing with, whereas puppies grow up to become larger dogs and you don't know the personality yet. An older animal tends to be more independent and is best for someone with a busy lifestyle.
These are some questions to ask yourself:
1. Are you an active person? Puppies are extremely active and mischievous. Some breeds of dogs stay puppy-like forever. Make sure you research the breed that you desire. Many dogs and cats are in shelters because the owner did not take the time to research properly.
2. How much training will you do? Adult dogs housebreak quicker than puppies. Adult dogs will also bond intensely; as they know they were rescued and tend to be forever grateful. Don't get me wrong, having a puppy or kitten can be wonderfully rewarding, but it's just not right for everyone. In fact, it's often the puppies that end up in shelters due to people who were not ready for the commitment of taking care of and raising an animal.
3. Got kids? While I think every child should know the joy of having a pet and lifetime playmate, do not get your child a pet unless you are willing to shoulder responsibility. Dogs and cats can live for up to 15 years. Your children can grow up, move out or lose interest in your pet.
4. Are you an impulse buyer? You are adding a new member to your family that will love and worship you but needs your care and love in return. Having a pet is a wonderful addition to your household, but you need to spend the time researching to make sure you get the right pet for your family.
How to Find a Rescue or Shelter in Your Area
www.Adopt-a-Pet.com - This site will guide you to your local pure breed and mixed breed rescue groups.
www.petfinder.com - This site will show you pictures of dogs and cats in shelters. This site is helpful if you know the exact type of dog or cat you are looking to adopt. Volunteers go to the shelters and take digital pictures of the dogs and cats so you can visit more than one shelter right from your home computer.
What to Expect from your Adopted Animal?
Animals need time to adjust to their new homes and to trust their new family. Some animals may adjust quicker than others. Usually by three months, the animal understands that this is a permanent arrangement and he has found a new home, so please be patient. (The animals want to know the rules of the house and will try to abide by them to please you, so be consistent).
What are the Benefits of Spaying and Neutering?
Animals are less likely to acquire ovarian and testicular cancer if they are spayed or neutered. Spaying and neutering also adds years to their life. In males, it decreases aggression and the animal is less likely to run away because they do not feel the need to wander. The biggest misconception of spaying and neutering is that it is cruel and that it changes the personality in a negative way. The animals recover very quickly. In one week they are back to themselves. After you spay or neuter your animal, it is important that you keep them calm for a few days, as you don't want to rip any of the sutures. Overall, by spaying or neutering your animal, you will help to end the vicious cycle of animal overpopulation, which leads to overcrowded shelters.
Take Me Home recommends the following books and publications.
1. "How to Speak Dog" by Stanley Corin. This book helps you communicate with your dog as they have their own language. This book is a lifesaver as your dog is constantly speaking to you and other animals.
2. "Dogs on the Couch". This is a great training book. It helps you problem solve.
4. "Pet Press". www.thepetpress-la.com. Free publication with rescue information, training tips and all around great reading.
Many veterinarians and pet stores can recommend a good trainer who uses positive techniques. It is a great way to bond with your dog. There are private or group classes where your dog can socialize with others. It is never too late to train.
Take Me Home is a non-profit organization. Our goal is to do television commercials, awareness campaigns and education on the proper treatment for your animals. If you would like to donate to Take Me Home, please contact us!
Take Me Home Alumni
Please post your own rescue story and upload a picture of your dog to help others learn about the wonderful experience of rescuing!