Dog in a cage
Credit: sixninepixels

Everywhere in the world the problem is the same. Millions of abandoned dogs are overflowing pounds and shelters.

One of the most known is the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, in London.  Their aim is never to to turn away a lost or abandoned dog and they care for them until a new home can be found. Animals are never put down unless there is a serious medical or behavioural reasons.

Unfortunately dogs in many other shelters and pounds across the globe are not as lucky. For lack of space and funds most shelters and pounds can only care for those animals for a few days or weeks, after which these healthy animals are destroyed. 

Why does that happen? Who owns those animals? How did they end up in shelters? Have they done anything wrong?

Most of the time, it's not them, but their owners that misbehaved and didn't take the full responsibility of being a deserving dog parent.

Christmas Puppy
Credit: Theeradech Sanin

A dog is for life, not for Christmas or birthdays

Unfortunately many people take the adoption of pets very lightly. They buy the adorable puppy as a Christmas or birthday present, without planning it properly. Initially it's a great joy, but soon the novelty wears off and the responsibilities increase.

One of the main reasons of why dogs end up in pounds, is their owners lack of commitment.

Some people don't realise that these animals need serious dedication. Many hours need to be spent to train your pet. There is toilet training, obedience training, learning to respond to commands, socialising etc.

If the dog owner is not interested in investing time in his pet training, there are going to be behavioural issues, that could have been easily prevented.
Changes of circumstances are also a big cause for men's best friends ending up abandoned. New baby arrival, financial difficulties, health issues of the dog or its owner, busy lifestyle, relocation etc.

Are you really ready to commit?
So how do you know if you are ready to adopt a dog?

First of all think carefully about it. Don't rush into getting a pet, because you see it in a store and he looks sooo cute, with those beautiful puppy eyes looking straight into yours, almost saying: take me home with you, my master.
Don't feel the pressure from your children, you know that despite their initial excitement and all the promises, it will be you that will have to look after him.

I talk about this from experience, because this is exactly what happened to our family.

A few years ago, we were having a picnic in the park and next to us was a mum with her son playing with four or five cute little puppies. They were adorable, only a couple of months old, these tiny little things caught the eyes of my young daughters, who started to play with them. We found out that the puppies were for sale and of course our daughters started to beg for us to buy one of them. I love animals very much, but I always understood the time and the commitment they require. I was saying no way, while my husband (a big kid himself) said that he was happy to get one. You can imagine the pressure I felt, one side my kids begging, on the other side, these gorgeous little balls of fur jumping all over us.

Unfortunately I ended up giving in and bought not one, but two puppies so that they would keep each other company.
I am saying unfortunately, because I should have never agreed to get those puppies. Don't get me wrong, they were adorable, we all loved them. We micro chipped them, vaccinated them, desexed them, went to puppy training school and everything else we needed to take care of them, but there was a big problem. My husband worked away a lot and I had a very busy job taking me away 12 hours a day, my girls were at after school care until I finished work and once at home they didn't really spend much time playing with the puppies, let alone training them or cleaning after them. Those dogs had each other for company, but we were too busy to give them the time they deserved. 

Eight months later I took the hard decision to donate them to two great families, who had less hectic lives and worked from home. The separation wasn't easy, we all cried and my girls were not happy with my decision, but I understood those puppies needed more than what we could offer them. Of course if I hadn't found suitable families for them, I would have not given up on them, they would have never ended up in the local pound.

We have learnt a valuable lesson from this experience and never again we will make the same mistake. 

Before you get a dog

Picture your house with a dog, think practical. Do you have time to dedicate to your new friend? Can you afford the expenses associated with your dog? Do you travel often? Can somebody look after you dog while you are away or are you prepared to pay for dogs accommodation? Are you stable in your job, location, house, relationship? Are you an hygienist or a cleaning freak? Do you realise that dogs shed hair, may get fleas, worms and other parasites? What breed are you interested in? If you have children, is the dog you want to get good with children? Research the breed, is it a dog that needs lots of physical activity? Do you have the time to attend to his needs. Do you have adequate indoor and/or outdoor space? Do all the members of your household love dogs? Are there any allergy sufferers in your household? Consider all these facts and more before getting a dog.

Do your research first and make a careful, informed decision, by doing that you are potentially saving another dog ending up in a pound and possibly being put down.

It's not up to me to tell you to get a dog from the pound instead of a dog breeder or from a pet store, that is your choice, but whatever you do, don't jump into it, like we did, make sure all the members of your family are really committed, do your research, and if you don't want to end up with unwanted puppies, desex your animal. Commit the time and the money to raise a loyal, healthy, happy member of your family for many years to come.
Remember a dog is for life.

PS: I will donate any money raised from this article to the RSPCA.

Shelter Dogs: Amazing Stories of Adopted Strays
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