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An animal shelter is a great place to adopt a dog, and a great place to start a search for your canine companion. But adopting an animal from a shelter or a rescue group isn’t for everyone. You definitely need to think over the pros and cons as you consider commitment to a new pet.

Pros to adopting a dog from rescue or shelter

Here are a few of the wonderful reasons for adopting a dog from a shelter or a rescue group, instead of buying one from a pet store or a breeder:

  • Save one of the millions of animals euthanized in shelters every year. When you adopt a shelter animal, you give one of these adoptable dogs a second chance at a new, healthy life and a happy home.

  • Discover that the dog you thought you wanted isn’t the one you need. For example, you may think you want a puppy but discover that an older dog is calmer and better trained, so a shelter may be a much better place to find your fit.

  • Pay less for your new best friend. Adoption fees typically are far below what pet stores charge.

  • Find out more about your new dog than you can from a pet store. Responsible shelters provide you with plenty of care information, support, temperament evaluation, and more.

  • Get more specific information about a shelter animal from shelter workers. Talk to the people who have been spending time with the dog to find out about what the animal is like and what he needs.

  • Feel good about contributing to and supporting a process that supports the welfare and management of stray animals in your community. You can get involved with the process in many ways, from adopting pets to donating money to volunteering your time.

    Most shelters include many volunteers on their staffs, solicit donations, and conduct fundraisers. They often need your help. In fact, humane societies and privately run shelters usually depend almost entirely on donations and volunteers.

  • Find a lost dog. Shelters often are responsible for reuniting lost pets with their owners.

Some shelter dogs have special needs, and if you’re willing to manage those needs, you can save a dog that otherwise may not find a home — and that feels great.

Cons to rescue group or shelter dog adoptions

Truthfully, there aren’t many cons to adopting a dog from a responsible shelter or a rescue group, but you may face a few downsides. Think carefully before adopting a dog from these sources because

  • You may be unable to find the exact breed of dog you want if you’re only going to shelters.

  • You may be unable to adopt the dog you like immediately. Shelters and rescue groups often adhere to a waiting period so you don’t rush into a decision and so owners have time to reclaim any incoming animals that may be lost.

  • You’re faced with answering a lot of personal questions and submitting a lot of paperwork.

  • The organization probably isn’t rolling in dough. Just because the government funds an animal-control agency doesn’t mean it’s getting everything it needs. Some shelters are underfunded and may not be able to maintain spacious facilities or spend much time screening or training the animals. And rescue groups usually don’t even have space —animals are housed in members’ homes.

  • Your new dog may turn out much different than you expected. When you bring any animal home, you may find it’s much different than it appeared to be at the shelter.

  • Some shelter and rescue dogs have special needs that you may not be willing to deal with.

  • You may be rejected for the dog you want if you don’t meet the organization’s requirements.

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