When Adopting, What About The Pet’s Background?

Dear Liz – I’ve heard that adopting from a shelter is a wonderful thing but my concern is that you never know the background of the dog.  What are your thoughts?

Signed, Curious in Cromwell

Dear Curious:

That’s always a good question!  I will say, though, that sometimes when an owner turns in a dog they are not completely honest about WHY they’re turning the dog in.

If everyone who says they’re suddenly allergic actually WAS allergic I’d say we have a definite health epidemic going on!

A dog that bites is a HUGE reason for turning it in and again, SOME owners will not disclose this little tidbit, leaving the new adopter wide open for a nasty experience.

Not being housebroken is also a very big reason – especially with little dogs.  This, however, is a more easily dealt with issue.

Owners needing to place the dog NOW can sometimes be less truthful in an attempt to get the dog out of their home so be aware of this.

Now, that is not to say that ALL owners needing to place their dogs will be less than truthful so don’t get me wrong on that one.

A good suggestion is to ask the owner for the veterinarian’s name that treats it.  Then CALL the vet and ask if there are any behavioral concerns.  Checking with the animal control officer can also be very helpful in determining past bad behavior.

Dogs that are found abandoned can come with their own set of issues, but hopefully the shelter placing the dog has done some sort of temperament testing so if you are considering a shelter dog, ASK the shelter if this has been done.  I know we’ll never know for sure what a dog will or will not react to, but a good shelter has a pretty good idea of the dog’s personality and where it would best be placed.

Use your gut, too, in determining the reliability of the shelter you’re dealing with.  Ask as many questions about the dog as you need to and don’t act on impulse or be pressured into taking any dog.

So I hope that helps!  I know it’s not a clear cut answer, but I’m not sure there ever is!

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