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Finding Your New Pet

Animal Shelters

Animal shelters, or what used to be known as pounds, are either governmental or private organizations that provide temporary homes for stray, surrendered, or abandoned pet animals. They most often house dogs and cats. The animal is kept at the shelter until it is reclaimed by the owner, adopted to a new owner, placed with another organization, or euthanized.

Unfortunately, resources are seldom adequate to support the large number of animals taken in by these organizations. As a result, animals that are not claimed by their owners, or that have temperament or health issues that cannot be corrected or treated within the resources of the organization, are often euthanized. Shelters that receive a disproportionate number of animals compared to available adopters may also euthanize animals because of space concerns.

A small number of shelters have chosen to be “no-kill” shelters, which support healthy and adoptable pets for the remainder of their lives or until they are adopted. However, as funding is limited, the number of animals that can be accepted by these organizations can be low, and some animals may not be accepted because of behavior or health concerns. “No-kill” shelters often do euthanize if they receive animals with these problems. There are no clear standards for assessing these issues, and so statistics cited about how many “adoptable” animals are euthanized or adopted can be meaningless.

Some people obtain their pets from pet stores. Millions of these pets are taken to shelters or abandoned when they get sick or are no longer wanted. Animal Welfare groups and volunteers are attempting to change that point of view by educating owners and potential owners about the lifelong commitment involved in adopting an animal, how to be a responsible pet owner, about the large number of adoptable animals available at shelters, and about the often poor condition of pet shop pets.

Animal control agencies, or nonprofit organizations contracting for animal control duties, also enforce animal-related ordinances. Some animal shelters also provide low-cost spay/neuter surgeries or veterinary care, behavior training or resources, “safe havens” for animals of abused spouses, or other services. By contrast animal sanctuaries will look after animals for the rest of their natural life, without necessarily attempting to find them any other home. Some establishments combine the qualities of an animal shelter with those of a sanctuary.

An animal shelter can be started by anyone who has the commitment, time and desire to help homeless animals. There are many resources available to assist in establishing an animal shelter, sanctuary or animal foster home. If an organization chooses to qualify for 501(c)(3) non-profit status, there are certain criteria outlined by the Internal Revenue Service (United States) which must be met. Additionally, running a non-profit animal shelter requires good business practices and skills. The best method of determining if one has the capability to run an animal shelter is to volunteer their time at a local Humane Society or shelter facility.

Breeder

A responsible breeder is a good source for a well-bred, healthy pet. The breeder will carefully select the parents to emphasize desirable attributes and minimize faults in their progeny. Some people breed animals only to produce pets to sell. These individuals have no regard for the advancement of that breed; they are motivated solely by profit. Responsible breeders will never breed without considering the advancement of the breed. Each generation should improve the quality of breeding stock, resulting in healthy animals with improved breed soundness- that is, physical and mental health- that are an advancement toward the ideal.

Another good reason to buy from a breeder is that gives you the opportunity to interact with the pets family, siblings, dam, also possibly the sire. You can, therefore, form a general impression of what the future holds for the pet you take home.

Buying from a breeder means that you are part of an extended family. Most breeders expect a call if the pet has a crisis at any stage in its life, so they can help you understand and cope with the problem. This can be especially comforting for the first time pet owners who can’t even imagine what kinds of questions they’ll have in the future.

Visit as many breeders as possible for your breed. Examine the premises to make sure they are clean and that the animals appear to be well cared for. Pets should be clean, well fed, lively and friendly, without any signs of illness such as runny nose or eyes, skin sores, or dirty ears or fleas.

Pet Shop

A pet shop is a place where dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, reptiles, rodents, fish, and other animals not born and raised on those premises are kept for the purpose of sale to the public. While many people are very satisfied with the pets they acquire from pet stores, critics of pet stores argue that there are numerous problems with the way most stores acquire, care for, and sell animals.

Many stores acquire most or all of their stock from large-scale commercial breeding operations that may also supply animals to industries that pet store patrons could find morally objectionable (such as cosmetics testing). Though not all of these facilities breed dogs, most are essentially the equivalent of puppy mills for other species. Overcrowded cages and long, stressful journeys via air or truck can cause the spread of disease, resulting in sick animals arriving in the store.

Large pet store chains frequently house sick animals in plain view with their other stock. Store employees are sometimes inappropriately educated in the handling of animals; picking up fancy rats by their tails, for example, is a common pet shop practice even though it is known to be painful to the animal. Due to the nature of the store environment, animals are not usually properly socialized by the time they are sold to their new owner. This can result in frustration for the owner and even the eventual abandonment of the pet.

Some pet stores have a screening system and attempt to counsel or interview potential pet owners. Reputable stores may refuse to sell a pet to someone who appears irresponsible or otherwise unable to care for the pet they wish to buy. However, most stores do not abide by this policy, and even reputable stores may mistakenly sell pets into homes where they will be abused or abandoned. Many animals are purchased on impulse (especially as pets for children); these animals suffer when the novelty of the new pet wears off.

Rescue Agency

Rescuing an animal is a wonderful option for some families. Animals find their way into rescue agencies for a variety of reasons. Some may have been accidentally lost or abandoned. Others may have been given up due to their owners’ illness, death, or other change in circumstance. You may not be able to know the history of the animal you adopt, but you will still bring home a fine companion–one who is grateful to you for giving him a second chance at a home and happiness.

All rescue groups carefully screen the animals in their care for health and temperament before offering them for adoption. The animals are often already housebroken and know some basic obedience. Rescue agencies provides a sanctuary for animals in need. Shelters provide animal veterinary care, spay/neuter, shots, high quality food, a temporary foster home not a kennel, love, and placement into a home for life under a contract that dictates their humane care.