Animal Shelters "Dog Pounds"


At RIGHT is Otis, a Beagle dressed for his 4th birthday party in New Jersey, USA. Otis was rescued from one of the ASPCA Animal Shelters. Photo sent in by his master, Bill. Thanks Bill. Want YOUR pooch on the site? Go to the Contact Us page and send the picture and a little story.->

“But our animal shelter is so run down!”

When going out to local Animal Shelters or a dog kennel, or as some call them, "dog pounds," don’t judge the places by what they look like. Shelters survive entirely on donated money from the public. Some can barely afford a front door.

Now and then, a wealthy man will feel sorry for a shelter and leave a big wad of money in his Will to a small local shelter and they'll be able expand their facility. But that’s rare.

What you are looking for is YOUR dog. Not a building. You also want friendly, informative shelter staff who know all about the shelter dogs in their care.

You can just as easily pull up to a big, modern shelter with all the amenities and a huge, unfriendly staff that don’t particularly care if you are there or not. Sure, beautiful building and the dogs have great big runs and fancy beds. But no one knows much about the dogs and their issues. The dogs have never been temperament tested and barely health checked. Who cares about the fancy building?

Animal shelters survive the best way they can. Overlook the poverty. Look at how well the dogs are maintained and how knowledgeable and helpful the staff is.

My wife and I were driving through central Utah in the summer of 2005. We were going through a tiny town of about 600. No restaurant or motel; one gas station. There was a hand made sign by the road that read “dog pound” with an arrow pointing to the rear of the gas station. I turned in.

There was a small lean-to with some chicken wire. There were 3 shelter dogs inside in the shade. All had water bowls. The gas station mechanic came around and asked if he could help. He said he had had all 3 dogs IN HIS HOUSE with his own dog and he knew the personalities of each one. We told him we were just tourists. (This man was also the animal control officer.)

My point is clear. You never know until you go in, so go in, no matter how bad it looks and find out what they have and offer.

The gas station mechanic knew all about his three impounded dogs and could advise anyone as to which one would be best for any situation. That's what you want in shelter staff. Some staff members can be real chunks of coal; others diamonds.

A rescued shelter dog with a new bone


“Where will I find the best selection of dogs?

Animal shelters in the rural areas of the Midwest, West and South will get a better selection of ADOPTABLE dogs than, for example, the Northeast, Southeast and mid-Atlantic states, as well as urban areas anywhere in the country. (We're talking about the USA)

The reason is this. Dogs coming into an animal shelter in rural parts of the country are usually the result of canine overpopulation. They come from backwoods and farms where people either don’t know or don’t care about spaying and neutering or they can’t afford the luxury so they have puppies galore. The puppies grow up and wander off, only to end up in a dog pound. These are good, adoptable, people-friendly dogs.

Another circumstance involves the sportsman. His “hunting dog” has no interest in chasing after game. His “bird dog” is more interested in sniffing trees and grass. The farmer has a “herding dog” that seems to prefer staying home and sleeping all day to chasing cattle. All of these fine dogs end up in animal shelters. There’s nothing wrong with the dogs, in fact, they are wonderful animals, just needing the right home! They just don’t want to hunt or chase birds, so, they end up as shelter dogs in a dog pound.

She's just been adopted!


On the other hand, big city (urban) dogs tend to lean toward German Sheppard's, Labs, Pit Bulls, Rottweiler's and mixes of the big dogs like a pit bull/Rottie mix. Too many of the latter wind up with street gangs and in fight rings. They are most often taught to fight and are encouraged to breed. Spaying and neutering is never an option with these kids. No animal shelter can cope with these aggressive fighters. They must be euthanized. So, your selection at animal shelters in urban areas is often more limited to the bigger, powerful dogs and puppies coming from raids on fighting stock.

NOTE: Unfortunately, there are some dog kennels, especially in urban settings that do NOT screen incoming dogs for temperament and personality. Do NOT patronize such a facility, especially in an urban setting, and especially if you have children. Do NOT run the risk of getting shelter dogs with an aggression problem from an animal shelter that runs a sloppy business. It isn’t worth the risk.

I’m not saying you can’t find a decent dog up for adoption in an urban animal shelter. All I'm saying is that it may be a bit harder to find a good all ‘round companion dog in a big city dog pound than out in the wide open spaces. You're more likely to run into more pit bulls and "junk-yard dogs" in big cities. Just make sure the dog you choose has NO aggression in his past.

The idea of adopting an adult dog from the animal shelter has been gaining popularity for some time. More mature dogs offer advantages. No need for potty training, no need to get up in the middle of the night to let the dog out, no waiting until the puppy grows so you can start serious training and with an adult dog, you can do a temperament-test right in the animal shelter before you adopt the dog.

Animal shelters do get litters of well bred puppies, often mixed breeds, and they turn out to be terrific pets. They may be "shelter dogs," but they can be great pets! However, adopt one and it’s a mystery as to what you’re going to get. A Poodle-Pug? A Labrador-Terrier? A Yorkie-Schnauzer? How big will it be? Will it be good with kids?

A Labrador mix found in a shelter-->

Shelter Dogs Offer Advantages

  • An important point... Browse at random through some of the dogs in the "Dog Breeds" section under the "Dog Health" heading for each breed. Many of the most serious health issues our dogs have show up between birth and 3 years old, some up to 5 years old, but not after that. Thus, if you adopt a 3 to 5 year old dog, you will get a healthy dog with any inherited health issues behind her.

  • No longer teething and chewing on every chair leg in sight.

  • Adult dogs are great for the elderly because they are already settled and usually calm. Also, it won’t live as long which is a better match for the older person.

  • Mature dogs don’t demand the intense amount of time puppies do. A dog from the animal shelter or pound will settle in with his toys and rawhide bone and you can go to work.

  • A mature dog will have developed emotionally so you know exactly what you are getting. Any issues can be worked with in re-training sessions.

  • “Cute” puppies are only "puppy-cute" for a few months. They grow up fast. Choosing mature dogs in animal shelters can get you a dog just as playful and even more fun than a puppy; more fun because now he’s old enough to retrieve a ball, go jogging with you and take long evening walks. Bonding will come faster too.

  • An adult dog will reveal his size, personality and temperament and generally the dog kennel staff can describe that to you when you visit. Most dog kennels will let you take the dog out for a walk and you can observe flaws for yourself. If the dog seems to have issues, pick another that doesn’t have issues. That can’t be done when getting a puppy from a breeder.

  • Shelter dogs seem to understand they are getting a second chance at life. It's uncanny, but they tend to show it. They do all they can to please you.

Animal Shelter Policy

Policies vary from one shelter to another. Many dog pounds will not let you anywhere near the dogs until you fill out an application form for adoption and possibly sit through some questioning. Those rules have been relaxed a bit by some animal shelters because shelters found that letting visitors browse through the kennel was a good idea.

The thought was that many people, while not there to adopt a dog, actually had adoption in the back of their minds and when they saw a variety of shelter dogs, got so excited that they went home, discussed it and came back to the dog pound to adopt a dog!

With most dog kennels, if you adopt a dog, it is kennel policy that if anything goes wrong, you are to bring the dog back to the kennel where you got the dog. If for any reason you can not care for the dog, or if the dog is sick, they want the dog back. Some dog kennels and dog rescue groups make you sign an agreement to this effect before you take the dog.

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