If you are thinking of bringing a dog into your home, you may be considering adopting one from a shelter. While this is certainly a positive choice, it can also be a dangerous one. Children are far more likely to be bitten by a dog that lives in the family home than by one that belongs to a stranger.
In many instances, shelter dogs come from unknown backgrounds. They may have been caught as strays on the street, or they may have been turned over to the local humane society for untold reasons. Even though it can be a good option, adopting a shelter dog is often more risky than purchasing a puppy from a breeder.
That said, shelter dogs can make fantastic family pets if chosen properly. Here are ways to choose your shelter dog that can help to ensure you are picking out the right one for your family.
Don’t choose a shelter dog based on looks alone. The cutest dog can be aggressive. Before you decide on a dog, ask questions.
1. Why is the dog in the shelter? The dog may be a stray, or it may have been given up by a family who was moving or no longer had time for the animal. Find out what type of background information the shelter has.
2. Are there medical issues? Some dogs have medical issues that are simple, and some come with issues that are more complex. Some medical conditions, like diabetes, are lifelong and require routine medical care. If you don’t want to be on the hook for vet bills right out of the gate, you will want to know about any medical conditions the shelter staff is aware of.
3. What are some good things about the dog? What are some bad things? If the dog has been in the shelter for several days or more, the staff will have gotten a chance to become familiar with at least some of its behaviors. Be sure to ask what the staff loves about the dog, and what things the staff is not so fond of. Maybe the dog jumps when greeted, maybe it is so frightened that it cowers in the corner. The dog might know dozens of tricks and walk well on a leash. You won’t know unless you ask.
4. Has temperament testing been done? Keep in mind that some shelters do not temperament test. If they don’t, they should be up front about it. If, on the other hand, they do perform testing, ask about the results.
Take a good look at the dog before you decide it’s the one for your family. Watch for positive and negative behavior signs. Things that you will want to see:
Things you won’t want to see:
While some of these things are common in dogs who are stressed out and might disappear once the animal is out of the kennel, you may not want to take a chance. Listen to your gut. Does the dog seem comfortable around you and your family? Are you comfortable around the dog?
Adopting a shelter dog is an admirable thing to do. There are millions of dogs put down every year due to overbreeding. That doesn’t mean that every shelter dog is right for your family. If you have little ones, you have to be extra careful in selecting a shelter dog to welcome into your family.
So what may be another option? There are hundreds of breed-specific rescues across the country. When you choose to rescue a dog, you can research several breeds that you are interested in and select a rescue that specializes in your breed of choice.
Rescues operate on a volunteer basis and utilize foster homes. The dogs available for adoption have lived with humans who have had a chance to evaluate them. As part of your adoption application, you can specify that you have children and other pets if applicable. The volunteers in the rescue can then help match you with the perfect dog for your family based on their knowledge of the available dogs and your living situation.
No matter how you choose to bring a dog into your life, keep in mind that any dog can bite if provoked. One of the most important things to do is to teach your children how to behave appropriately around a pet. No pulling, no pinching, no running and no screaming should be the rules of the house.
If your child has been bitten by a dog in West Palm Beach, you have rights. Reach out to our team of experienced dog bite attorneys to learn how you may be able to recover damages. Call today to schedule your free case evaluation.