Choosing a pet is a very personal process, which may include a search that can last several months and span several states.
Those looking for the right pet have several options available, including adoption through public or private institutions and purchase through stores or breeders.
Due to the stigma connected to puppy mills, there has been a strong movement toward adoption by organizations such as the Humane Society and privately owned rescues.
Jeanette DeMars, founder and “Chief Pooper-Scooper” of Corgi Connection of Kansas (CCK), takes a middle-of-the-road approach to finding the perfect pet.
“If they are absolutely only wanting a puppy, I tell them to do their homework on the breeder; ask lots of questions, ask to see the premises, be sure to get shot records (and) ask to see the parents of the puppies,” DeMars said.
“Adoption through a rescue like CCK is advantageous because I stand behind the dogs until the day they die. When we adopt a dog, we try our best to make sure that dog is ‘pet ready,’ so to speak. We don’t adopt dogs with special needs, such as shyness, to just your average dog owner.”
Adopting a pet
The Humane Society of the United States has a list of reasons to adopt instead of going to a breeder.
The No. 1 reason? “Because you’ll save a life.”
Each year, 2.7 million adoptable dogs and cats are euthanized in the United States because of overcrowding and a lack of adopters.
The animals in shelters and rescue groups generally are happy and healthy animals who only lack a home.
Cowley County Humane Society microchips, spays or neuters and gives vaccinations to all of the animals it adopts.
When pets are adopted, there are added benefits. For instance, the personality of the animal that is adopted generally is well established.
Any foster family that has housed a foster animal can give the adopters insight into the animal’s habits and personality.
Myths about surrendered animals
Some potential adopters have hesitations about adopting animals from a shelter.
“Pets are in shelters because they didn’t make good pets” is one such reason for hesitation, according to www.petfinder.com.
The same website explains that the following are common reasons animals are surrendered:
- The owner is moving to housing that doesn’t allow pets — dogs, 7 percent; cats, 8 percent.
- Allergies — cats, 8 percent.
- The owner is having personal problems — dogs and cats, both 4 percent.
- There are too many pets or no room for litter mates — dogs, 7 percent; cats, 17 percent.
- The owner no longer can afford the pet — dogs, 5 percent; cats, 6 percent.
- The owner no longer has time for the pet — dogs, 4 percent.
“I saw a corgi on one of those programs that tells you about the breed and decided I wanted one. However, before I sought one out, I went to the local shelter — where, ironically, I had worked as a teenager, cleaning runs and kennels — just to see if there was a dog there I wanted to adopt,” DeMars said.
She was not able to adopt her first corgi, but when she went to the shelter, she met Sally Mayes, who was heading a local group called Friend of Animals (FOA).
That organization helps to find homes for the numerous dogs that come into the Junction City-Geary County Animal Shelter.
“When I started asking her about its work, I became an ‘instant’ volunteer,” she said. “So I began working with FOA by going to the shelter, taking pictures and posting them on the internet, in hopes of adoption versus euthanasia.”
DeMars teaches research above all else, as she encourages potential owners to be armed with knowledge.
“We try to best match the needs of the dog to that of the owner,” she said. “Sometimes people don’t get why they may not be able to adopt a certain dog, but when I explain it, they are usually quite understanding and enlightened.”
Buying from a breeder
It’s worth nothing that there are responsible breeders who work to preserve breeds.
People who are seeking a specific breed of dog should be aware of from where the dogs are coming.
“People who buy from pet shops/stores have no idea what they are getting or from where,” DeMars said.
However, if the breeder is reputable and knowledgeable about the breed he or she has chosen to work with, he or she should be able to provide added insight to the buyer.
“If it’s a breed-specific breeder, they will be able to tell you a lot about the traits of that breed and they should be honest enough to say whether they think the breed is right for you,” DeMars said.
As an added benefit, the parents of the puppies should be available for viewing when potential buyers are visiting the dogs.
“It would also give you some health history from the blood line,” DeMars said.