Should I Adopt a Rescued Dog?

Should I Adopt a Rescued Dog?

Before you adopt, do your research. Pets that have been rescued are at higher risk for behavioral problems. Many have been abused, neglected, or traumatized; you don't want to put one at risk of further upheaval if you decide you can't look after it.

Look online. Once you're sure you want a rescued pet, visit petfinder.com, which includes national listings. If you're looking for a certain breed, try websites run by breed-specific chapters of rescued dogs. You can always make arrangements to spend some time with a pet before taking it home.

Meet in person. You can also start your search at a "meet and greet" adoption event run by groups like Forgotten Friends (mixbreedrescue.com) or the Humane Society (hsus.org). The events are usually held at PetSmart or Petco stores or shelters.

Be prepared for full disclosure. Before you can adopt an animal, you'll be asked detailed questions about your living situation. Most organizations will also do "home checks" to make sure you have sufficient space and time for the pet. Due to certain regulations about breeds and dog care, many rescued dogs can only be adopted in the state where they live. (Go to animallaw.info for more information.)

Consider unpopular breeds. Rescued dogs are equally represented by purebreds and mutts, but some breeds more commonly need to be rescued. Several big cities have an excess of homeless pit bulls (American Staffordshire terriers), for example, which are often raised by incompetent or abusive "backyard breeders." Rescued dogs aren't free. The price of a rescued dog varies. Some shelters charge $100, which covers the cost of any vaccinations and care the dog has needed. Once you get your pet home, you may have to invest in some obedience training. Visit pet forums online or your veterinarian or local animal clinics and shelters if you need additional support. (See 911petrescue.com or forums.petfinder.com.) To increase the likelihood of success, ask as many questions as needed before and after the adoption.