Winter is a hard time for dog shelters and animal charities as they become over run with stray and unwanted dogs. Many families and individuals buy dogs for Christmas as a present for someone or just a companion for themselves. Statistics from the Dogs Trust show that the number of rescue dogs in Britain is the highest it has been for the past 11 years. In the past 12 months over 126,176 dogs have been rescued by local shelters and authorities. This means a whopping 345 dogs are being found every day.
Adopting a rescue dog is a very noble thing to do, but it isn't easy.
When you first decide to adopt a dog you will need to fill in a form letting the shelter know more about yourself. You can also have a chat with the staff at the shelter who will help to match you with the best dog to fit in with you and your current lifestyle. You can also have a look at dogs that currently need rehoming on their website (if they have one) before you visit the shelter.
Once you have decided you definitely would like to adopt a dog then you can visit the shelter and meet the dogs that need rehoming locally to you. It is important to meet them as you cannot tell simply from a photo whether a dog will be suitable for you and your family. After this, the staff will help you to determine a shortlist of the dogs you would like to adopt.
When your dog has been selected it is important to get to know them and bond with them. You will also need to arrange for any other dogs you own to meet the new addition to the family - a member of staff can help you to do this. A home visit to ensure your house and garden are prepared for the new arrival will be undertaken before the dog can come home with you - a secure garden is crucial as some dogs can easily escape.
Finally, your dog will need to be vaccinated, neutered, microchipped and checked over by a vet before being taken home. If you need any help on how to make your new dog feel at home, don't hesitate to ask any of the staff. Any advice, support and information you might need after getting your new family member home can be provided over the phone or in person and some shelters even provide training and behavioural classes onsite so it's always worth checking.
I hope this has been helpful in understanding the process of adopting a stray dog and if you have recently adopted one or plan to in the near future we would love to hear how you get on and all pictures are welcome :)
E-mail any pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org