This little blurb ran through my FB feed this morning and spurred something in me. What is the difference between shelters and rescues and really, it should have included animal control. To be truthful the blurb seems to make the assumption that all shelters are government run, but that is not the case. There are thousands of private 501(c)3 shelters out there. Just as there are thousands of private rescues who foster cats and dogs in individual homes.
So, where should you go for your next dog or cat? Personally, I have always looked to petfinder.com as my map to the right place. You can search for the animal you want simply by putting in what you want and where you live. Petfinder as well as adoptapet.com run databases of ONLY rescue animals. In seconds, you will see so many dogs needing homes and from there you can pick the ones who seem to touch your heart and you can either go to the shelters they are at or contact the rescues they are in.
But, then what? It is true dogs at animal control (government run shelters) will have much lower adoption fees. Typically under $100 and all their vaccines, microchip and spay/neuter is included. I worked at AC for awhile, so I am happy to share a few things. Personally, my heart breaks a little more for animals in government run facilities. The employees are often employees who don’t care if they work at AC or for Streets and Sanitation or for the Mayor. They needed a job and they got one. It is true that the government is FAR less likely to spend any extra money on a dog needing vet care. So, if there are broken bones or cancer or a continual viral infection, unless a rescue comes in to pull the dog, AC will put it down.
The thing that people have to remember is it was never the dog’s choice to go to AC. Either they got lost and were never reunited with their families or their families brought them there for a myriad of reasons. Typically they are: the family had a baby, the family was moving, the family was getting a divorce, someone was allergic. Rarely are dogs at AC because they are bad dogs or misfits or “have baggage.” REALLY AWESOME dogs are at animal controls across the country. Purebreds, puppies, you name it. I highly recommend checking them out.
Shelters and rescues have their own benefits. When you adopt from them they tend to really know the dog you are interested in. USUALLY, the people who work/volunteer at rescues and shelters WANT to be there because they love animals, so when you ask them about a specific dog, they have lots to share. They tend to be, personally, invested in that dog and only want to see a positive, lifelong outcome. If you go with a breed specific rescue, they are going to know a lot about that breed and be able to tell you if that breed fits with your lifestyle.
It is true that most private rescue and shelter adoption fees are high. They can be anywhere from $200-over $500. However, that always includes vaccines, microchips, and spay/neuter. Depending on the dog’s behavior, that also might include training and/or additional medical treatment. Unlike animal control, rescues and shelters are willing to invest a lot of money in a dog just to see it live the life it deserves. They will take it to training, get it surgery, etc… While not every dog needs those things, by charging a higher adoption fee for all dogs, they are able to give services to the ones who need it. Animals rescue or not – we all have to run on budgets.
Here is where I put in my sly commentary… I am often irritated by people who roll their eyes at adoption fees, looking at me like rescue dogs should be free or something. Yet, those same people and many others will walk into a pet store and buy a puppy for over $1000. That same puppy will then need a $300-500 spay/neuter surgery, a $50 microchip, and over $100 in vaccines.
I always tell people, “No dog is free.” Even if you get a free dog, one day you will have to spend money on vaccines or surgery or illness – not to even mention food, treats, and medicine.
As for AC, shelters or rescue…there are fantastic dogs at all of them. So many dogs who never chose to be abandoned or lost or unwanted. The important decision is to ADOPT. 1.5 million dogs will be euthanized this year, wouldn’t you like to know YOU were solely responsible for changing that by at least 1.