Since 1981, American Humane has celebrated Adopt-a-Dog Month each October in an effort to help the estimated 3-4 million animals waiting in shelters every year get the loving, forever homes that they deserve.” These animals are often abandoned without homes or have been abused before their arrival. During their stay, veterinarians and volunteers work hard to help them heal in order to be available for adoption.

There are many good reasons to adopt rescue dogs from the shelter. Not only are you saving a life by rescuing, but you are also making room in the shelter for another pet’s ability to find its furever home. Ideally, the best way to observe Adopt a Shelter Dog Month is to adopt, but is adopting right for you? What kind of questions should you ask before adopting? Where can you adopt locally in Charleston? If you can’t adopt, how can you help? Let’s dive in!

Questions to Ask the Shelter Staff

The staff members and volunteers at the animal shelter can be amazing resources when finding a new companion. They have experience with helping animals find the right forever homes and have had more interaction with adoptable pets than anyone else. Beyond personality and behavior, they will know some critical details.

1. Was the dog surrendered or was it a stray?

If it was surrendered it may give you some insight into its personality. Maybe it didn’t do well with children and you will need to consider that if you have children in your house. Or did it have health problems the previous owners could not manage?

2. Does the rescue have a clean bill of health? Are vaccines up to date?

You want to find out if the dog has had a full physical exam. You don’t want to be surprised with any long-term health issues you are not prepared to care for.

Local Shelters and Rescue Groups

Now that you have the answers to some basic questions and you know what you are looking for in a rescue, spend some time walking around a local shelter. There are several in our area, Pet HelpersCharleston Animal Society has multiple locations, Dorchester Paws, and more. If you live outside the Charleston area search for the animal society in your community.

See how the dog reacts to you when you’re in their space. Are they showing interest in you? Are any of them rubbing against the glass in anticipation of potential cuddles?  Or are they upset when they see you approaching? These behaviors can help you find a pup with the right personality.

Also, make sure you don’t miss out on the perfect companion by overlooking the less active dogs. Your perfect match may be snoozing during your visit.

Select a few and ask the staff for some one-on-one time in a quiet space with each one. Give the dog a bit of time to warm up to you. Are they interested in getting your attention? Are you looking for a lap dog? If so, are any curling up or laying down for you to pet them? Will they let you pick them up?

Narrow the list down to a couple that you love and you think will work well in your home. Then have anyone that lives in the house with you come and interact with them as well. It’s important that everyone that will be living with your new family member has input in the final selection.

Talk to a Veterinarian

Once you’ve found the rescue pup that’s right for you, Oceanside Veterinary Clinic is here to help you care for your new four-legged family member. Our providers specialize in a full range of veterinary care including annual exams, vaccinations, behavioral consultations, dental care, diagnostic tests, surgery, and emergency services. To schedule your rescue pup’s first physical, give us a call at 843-795-7574 or contact us through our website.

Can’t Adopt? How Can You Help?

Every day these shelter pups get to spend socializing helps their chances of adoption. If you can’t adopt at the moment, consider spending time at the shelter as a volunteer. The animals at the shelter love to be walked, cuddled on, and played with during their time waiting to go home. So go ahead and be a hero during Adopt a Shelter Dog Month by adopting, visiting, donating, or volunteering.