Considering adopting a furry friend?
About a year ago, I started on a quest to adopt our next family dog. Rescuing was something I wanted to do for a long time, but was reluctant. We had always gotten our dogs from breeders in the past. My hesitation was based on the premise of just not knowing what I was getting myself and my family into with a rescue dog.
I began my search online at Petfinder.com and discovered there are two avenues to adopt: shelters and rescues.
Shelters are physical locations where dogs and cats (sometimes rabbits, chinchillas and other animals) live in kennels where they are cared for by knowledgeable and caring people until they are adopted.
What’s great about shelters is that you can go to a local location, meet the animal that you’ve seen on Petfinder.com and speak directly with the staff to learn more about the animal’s history and behavior. When you find a pet you want to adopt, you can complete an application. The application process varies from shelter to shelter. According to Jennifer Vanderau, communications director for the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter in Chambersburg, “Our application process usually takes a day or two. Once you’re approved, we’ll make arrangements for family members—four-legged ones, too—to meet the animal, and then you can fill out the adoption agreement and take the new baby home.”
Most rescue organizations do not have a location that’s open to the public—typically, the animals reside in the foster homes of volunteers until they are adopted. “Dogs and puppies who come from foster homes are normally well socialized both with people and often other animals,” said Suzi Gilbert, president of Hope for Hannah Rescue in Bartonsville. “They are learning a routine for eating, sleeping and house training. Many fearful dogs also learn they can love and trust humans. This exposure makes for a much easier transition into the new adopter’s home.” Like shelters, rescue organizations require an application process which can takes a few weeks, and you may not be able to meet the animal until after being approved.
Whether you adopt from a shelter or a rescue, it’s so rewarding to know that you are saving a life. “We [shelters and rescues] work together and are in the same fight,” Vanderau said. “We’re both looking to find new homes for pets who have ended up homeless.”
I’m happy to report that we found our newest family member. Her name is Sophie, a 1-year-old poodle mix adopted her through Hope for Hannah Rescue. She’s been in our home now for a month and has become part of our family. We love her very much.
Angela Gorman, a freelance writer based in Fayetteville, is a married mom of one teenage son and one rescued Shih- poo.