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Puppy Mills: What They Are & How to Avoid Adopting from One

You’ve probably seen or heard the term “puppy mill,” but do you know what a puppy mill actually is? If you’re considering adopting a puppy or a dog, you’ll want to avoid adopting from one, even through a third party. Here’s what you need to know about puppy mills.

What Is a Puppy Mill?

A puppy mill is defined by the ASPCA as a “large-scale commercial dog breeding operations where profit is placed above the well-being of the animals.” These mills work toward the mass production of puppies and dogs for sale:

  • On the internet
  • At flea markets
  • In classified ads
  • In pet stores

Any dog breed of dog, including mixed breeds, can be subjected to a puppy mill environment and the resulting animal cruelty.

Many puppy mills continue to exist because new owners aren’t aware of where their puppies come from. Many trust the breeders or pet stores from which they buy and don’t second-guess the origin of their new family members. As long as the demand is there and a lack of education continues, puppy mills will be around.

Why Are Puppy Mills Bad for Dogs?

In puppy mills, dogs and puppies are viewed purely for the money they bring in. Mother dogs are kept in small, confined cages where they are bred over and over. Their puppies are sold to various locations to be sold again to families looking for new dogs. The dogs that stay in puppy mills—as well as puppies before they are sold off—live their entire lives there in squalid conditions:

  • They are usually outside in cages, with little to no shelter from weather, cold, or heat.
  • Many of the dogs are left to their own devices, and as a result, have to sleep in their own excrement.
  • Water and food, when given, can be contaminated or inadequate. Many dogs are starving.
  • Dogs are bred until they cannot produce any more puppies. Then they are destroyed.
  • Dogs don’t get access to any sort of care from a veterinarian. As a result, many are injured or sick. Dogs have been found suffering from: malnutrition, rotted teeth, skin diseases, matted fur, emaciation
  • Mother dogs do not have any break in between litters.
  • Dogs don’t get exercise or social engagement.

Puppies from puppy mills can also have behavioral and health problems, due to their environment or breeding. With lack of engagement and socialization with people during the first few weeks of their lives, they can be shy, anxious, or aggressive.

Genetic problems and illnesses are also commonly found in puppy mill puppies, including:

  • Intestinal parasites
  • Canine parvovirus (parvo)
  • Canine distemper
  • Urinary or bladder problems
  • Respiratory problems or disorders
  • Kidney disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Eye issues
  • Cleft palate

How to Avoid Adopting from a Puppy Mill

what is a puppy mill

One of the best ways to avoid adopting from a puppy mill is to become educated. If you’re considering welcoming a new family member into your home, do your research first. Here are some ways to avoid puppy mills altogether:

Adopt from a Local Animal Shelter or Humane Society

One of the best ways to avoid a puppy mill is to adopt a new family member from your local animal shelter. These are dogs that are looking for homes, are often socialized, and live in adequate conditions. You won’t be supporting a puppy mill by adopting from one of these centers.

If you’d like a particular breed or designer breed, these can be found at animal shelters too! They may even have their papers. There are also many breed-specific rescue organizations, like National Greyhound Adoption Program and Beagle Freedom Project. Don’t rule out shelters and rescues even if you’re after a specific breed!

5 Questions to Ask to Find a Reputable Shelter

Only Work with Reputable Breeders

If you want to get your dog from a breeder, try to make sure they are reputable. Responsible breeders truly care for their dogs. They provide a healthy environment and care about the homes their puppies go to. Before adopting from a breeder, always ask to see the puppies’ parents, other dogs in the environment, and the premises your dog was living in.

How to Find a Responsible Dog Breeder

Avoid Pet Stores, Classified Ads, and “Deals”

Many deals you’ll find in the local newspaper, online on various websites, or at your neighborhood flea market also fall in the too-good-to-be-true category. It’s possible many of these dogs came from poor conditions or puppy mills.

About 90% of pet stores are selling dogs from puppy mills. Some pet stores do follow “puppy-friendly” rules, which means they are selling dogs from local animal shelters or rescues, but do your research if you plan on shopping at a pet store. Look for reviews of the store, and go there yourself to see if the pets look well.

Each year approximately 2 million puppies are sold as the result of puppy mills and nearly 200,000 dogs are being kept in the 10,000 facilities around the United States purely for breeding. You can work to stop puppy mills by advocating for the animals; contacting legislators; and educating others about what they are, the problems surrounding them, and how they too can avoid puppy mills.

Are you bringing home a new family member? It’s important to have them checked by a veterinarian. They can help you identify any genetic issues, work with behavioral problems, and more. To schedule your new family member’s first appointment, reach us at 281-693-7387.

Where & How to Find a Puppy!

Are you thinking about bringing a new family member home? If you’re considering a puppy, you may be wondering where you can find the perfect one! Here’s how to select the right pup for your family.

What Adopting a Puppy Means

If you’re still in the early stages of considering adding a puppy to your family, there are a few things you should consider, especially if this will be your first dog or pet. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you have time to care for and entertain a dog?
  • Will he be home alone a lot?
  • Do you have the time and patience needed to train a puppy?
  • Do you have the finances to support a new family member?
  • Who will take care of your dog if you go on vacation?
  • Are you prepared to care for your puppy for its entire life? (Some dogs can live up to 18 years!)
  • Is your whole family on board? (It’s often not advisable to give a puppy or another pet as a present. Find out why here.)
  • Are you prepared for all the challenges that come with owning a dog? (Bathroom accidents, medical emergencies in the middle of the night, old age, and more)

Consider This Before Adopting a Puppy

Selecting the right dog for your family is a process. Your living situation could affect the type of dog you bring home. Here are some things to ask yourself before finding a puppy:

Where Do You Live?

While you may not consider it important at first, where you live can absolutely affect your adoption decisions. Apartments, for example, may not be best for a more active dog, and they may not be big enough for larger breeds. If you want a puppy that needs a lot of exercise, like a border collie, a yard with room to run around is best!

Apartment complexes and home insurance companies may also restrict the breeds you can bring home. Some dog breeds that are generally prohibited include:

There may be others that are blacklisted.

Do You Have Kids?

Some dogs can be great with children; others not so much. It’s important to pick a dog that gets along with the whole family. Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, and beagles are three great examples of puppies that are generally wonderful with kids due to their laid-back natures.

Other breeds are fantastic in other family situations, but may not be happiest with children around. Dalmatians, for example, can be jumpy and need calm. Chow chows can have a quick temper and may to bite when upset or riled up.

On the other hand, it’s important to note your kids’ ages and personalities. Younger children may not understand completely how to care for a young dog, especially smaller breeds like the chihuahua, and could accidentally hurt your new puppy.

Do You Have Other Pets?

You may already have furry family members. Don’t forget about them when choosing a dog! If you have a cat, basset hounds, beagles, and papillons are great examples of breeds that get along with others. Bluetick coonhounds and whippets, though, have a strong prey drive and can pose a risk to cats, kittens, and other small animals.

Some dog breeds also get along with dogs better than others. Golden retrievers, Corgis, and Irish setters generally make wonderful companions for dogs.

How Much Attention Can You Give Your Dog?

Your new puppy will need—and demand—your attention. If you work a full-time job, you’ll want a dog that is okay being alone most of the day. When you get home, how much patience or energy will you have to spend with your new family member?

Consider these things when it comes to your spare time:

  • How much grooming will the puppy need? – Some dogs, especially with longer fur, need more grooming than others. You’ll need to dedicate time each week to this task.
  • How much energy does the dog have? – Adopt a dog that matches your energy level. If you like sitting around doing nothing, find a pup that shares this interest.
  • How much time do you have for training? – A well-trained puppy grows into a well-trained dog, and remember: Some dogs learn faster than others!

find a puppy

How to Find a Puppy

Now that you’ve asked yourself those questions and have an idea what you’re looking for, it’s time to find your puppy! Here are some places you can look for your newest family member:

Local Shelters and Animal Rescues

One of the best places to find your new puppy is at a local rescue or shelter. They always have dogs that are looking for homes and often have puppies. And don’t think you can’t find purebred dog at a shelter. You’ll be surprised! Often, you can also put in a request for a particular dog, and the shelter will call you when one arrives.

If you’re not sure which dog is right for you, ask the workers. They spend so much time with the animals that they usually get to know their personalities inside and out! They will likely be able to help you find a great fit if you tell them about your:

  • Living situation
  • Family
  • Needs and wants
  • Lifestyle

Adoption Red Flags

Pet Store

Many pet stores carry puppies, but it’s important to do your research into selecting a store. Some buy from puppy mills, which may mean health problems for your new pet and is potentially supporting unethical breeding practices.

If you find the pet store gets their dogs and other pets from reputable sources, you may just find your new family member there!

Professional Breeders

There are hundreds of professional dog breeders. From goldendoodles to German shepherds, it’s possible to find the exact breed to fit your lifestyle, family, home, and needs.

Much like pet stores, the key is finding a reputable and professional breeder. Do research into the breeds that pique your interest, and check official websites regarding those dogs. They will often supply the contact information of established and trustworthy breeders to ensure you bring a well-bred and healthy puppy home. The American Kennel Club, for instance, has its Breeder Referral Search here.

There are several red flags to keep an eye out for when searching for a dog from a breeder:

You’re not allowed to see his parents This could mean the dog is being sold secondhand, the parents have health issues, or the mother is constantly pregnant.

The breeder won’t meet you at their home This could mean they’re from a puppy mill and not a reputable breeder.

They offer three or more breeds Many breeders only focus on one or two breeds. If the breeder you’re looking into focuses on several, it could point to a puppy mill.

There’s no contract Generally, breeders care about what happens to their puppies when they leave their care. A contract includes paperwork that states the new owner will spay or neuter their new family member, care for the puppy, and return the dog if they decide he is not for them.

The breeder promises the dog is “perfect” There is no way to tell for sure that a puppy is absolutely free from genetic issues or will have a specific temperament. If a breeder makes extreme or excessive promises, it could point to problems.

Finding your puppy is an exciting and wonderful time. Knowing what to look for and how to find it makes the start of this new relationship even better! Ask yourself the important questions to narrow down the right breed for you and your family. Once you know what will fit your needs, it’s time to start your search. Whether you’re getting your puppy from a shelter, a breeder, or a pet store, the time you take now will help ensure you select a healthy and well-cared-for dog.

If you’re bringing home a new puppy, a check-up is always recommended—and we’d love to meet him! To schedule your pup’s first appointments and get him on a vaccination schedule, give Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital a call at 281-693-7387.

The shots your puppy needs

4 Unique Houston Animal Rescues

There are thousands of pets across the country that are looking for homes. The Houston area is no exception! In addition to the typical rescue organizations that do great work, there are several unique, smaller animal rescues in town. You may find your next family member among them!

Here are just four of Houston’s most unique animal rescues. Learn what makes them so special.

1. Friends for Life

Friends for Life, known for running the Don Sanders Adoption Center, is the only no-kill, LEED certified animal rescue in Houston—and Texas!

The rescue provides:

  • Adoption
  • Spay/neuter services
  • Pet assistance
  • A medical clinic (coming soon)

Since 2008, Friends for Life has seen a 580% increase in adoption and is so proud of the 75% adoption rate for animals that were deemed “unadoptable” by other shelters. Dogs staying at the rescue until they find forever homes enjoy sniff holes and plenty of space. Cats are cage-less, with room to climb—even up to the skylights!

Beyond getting animals adopted, the shelter is committed to keeping families together, no matter the obstacles. For local families and communities that can’t afford to spay or neuter their pets, Friends for Life offers free fix services, in partnership with the Houston animal rescue, BARC. One unfixed female cat could potentially have more than 100 kittens in her entire lifetime. That could lead to 420,000 kittens in 7 years! To avoid cats being the most-killed animal in shelters, they need to be spayed or neutered. Friends for Life has done over 1,700 cat surgeries in just 3 years.

Friends for Life also understands that pet owners could potentially run into financial issues that make keeping their pets difficult. Their answer is offering assistance to ensure a lifetime with pets. This includes a food bank, assistance with animal containment and fences, grants for vets, and even free behavioral services. In the future, the Houston animal rescue will open a medical clinic to offer affordable pet care for those in financial straits.

2. Texas Wolfdog Project

The Texas Wolfdog Project is a newer Houston animal rescue, started in 2013. Wolfdogs are usually half-dog, half-wolf, but can be any combination of the two. Unfortunately, they are often subjected to misrepresentation, negligence, misunderstanding, and death.

While they’re certainly intriguing, wolfdogs don’t make good pets for owners who are uneducated about the breed. Many people who buy a wolf or wolfdog love the idea of owning one but are ill-equipped to handle the animal. When bored, wolfdogs can become destructive, especially with their increased prey drive, and can tear apart yards, homes, and more. Also, wolves howl, and a wolfdog is no different; it will howl at all hours of the night. The Texas Wolfdog Project hopes to educate the public about the care that this breed requires.

Often, when a breed is labeled “wolf,” it is automatically put down. The Texas Wolfdog Project steps in to help these dogs, giving them a second chance at life with more educated and responsible owners. The Project’s adoption process is lengthy and in-depth, so each dog gets its best chance.

3. K-9 Angels Rescue

A smaller animal rescue in Houston is the K-9 Angels Rescue. Focusing purely on dogs, it relies on a network of volunteers and foster families rather than its temporary adoption center. K-9 Angels Rescue does not accept animals from the public, but pulls adoptable dogs from kill shelters where they face death.

Each dog that is pulled from one of the area’s kill shelters remains with the rescue until it is adopted, often living in foster homes or with volunteers. K-9 Angels focus on finding the right family and the best match for each dog before adopting it out.

The mission of K-9 Angels Rescue is to ensure that as many of Houston’s dogs as possible do not face death just because they were abandoned, orphaned, rejected, surrendered, or neglected. The rescue is constantly looking for volunteers and eligible foster families.

4. CAP

One Houston animal rescue that Cinco Ranch Vet is proud to work with is CAP (Citizens for Animal Protection). Although CAP’s main mission is rescuing homeless animals and finding families for them, it also stands strongly:

  • Against animal cruelty
  • For the education of the public
  • For the respect of animal life

Since the 1970s, CAP has found forever families for Houston’s homeless, abused, and unwanted animals. Currently, it has one of the highest adoption rates in the country, and its program is award-winning. It also offers senior citizens the ability to adopt any pet over seven years old for free.

Unlike many shelters, where you choose a pet, CAP requests that all potential adopters fill out a “Pet Match” request card. This helps you and the rescue find the pet that fits your needs and lifestyle as well as the animal’s. In addition to dogs and cats, CAP rescues rabbits, guinea pigs, reptiles, and more.

CAP is also extremely dedicated to raising awareness about the treatment of pets throughout the Houston area and the nation. Its mission is to create an aware and responsive community that shows compassion for animals. Thanks to CAP’s efforts, thousands of pets in our city have found families and loving care.

When looking for your new family member in the animal rescues around Houston, the best place to start is online. Through education and research, you can learn about the compassion, respect, and work that goes into saving homeless animals. If you’re on the search for a fur-baby, check out the four rescues mentioned here. There are hundreds of animals around our city just waiting for loving homes!

Red Flags When Adopting a Cat: What to Look for and What to Do

The Many Personalities of Cats

It doesn’t take a cat lady to realize that cats come with many personalities. Some are friendly and love humans, others are shy and keep to themselves, and there are some that will hiss at anyone they see. Dogs aren’t the only pets that have their own personalities; cats have them in spades!

If you’re planning to adopt a cat, you should learn as much as you can about its personality beforehand. Some people want playful cats, while others may like low-maintenance cats that don’t require much attention. What most don’t want are aggressive or destructive cats.

Look for the red flags!

When it comes to cats, first impressions are important. Just like with dogs, you should choose your feline friend carefully, as each cat has a different past.

First, speak with someone at a reliable shelter about every cat, and learn their pasts. Some cats come from nice households, while others grew up mistreated. While the latter definitely deserve second chances, they may exhibit undesirable behaviors.

CatBesides asking about each cat’s general behavior, ask about:

  • The cat’s vaccination history — Is Fluffy up-to-date on all her vaccines?
  • House-training — Is the cat house-trained, or will you have to teach it how to use a litter box?
  • Past health — Has the cat had a history of illness?
  • Reproductive health — Has the cat been spayed or neutered?

After gathering some information, approach the cat you want to adopt. Does it come to you? Does it hide? Does it hiss? The cat may be stressed, so don’t dismiss it as an option just because it hides or hisses. Ask a vet whether this cat’s behavior is common or if there’s something unusual about it.

Does the cat scratch a lot? Scratching is a behavior you’ll have to teach your feline to control, so if you’re not up to the challenge, don’t adopt a cat that’s prone to scratching. And while it may be tempting to consider declawing, think twice: Declawing a cat is like ripping the fingernails off a human.

Another red flag to watch out for comes when you pet the cat. Some cats like being petted, but others may be stressed out by it. If the cat seems aloof to your rubs, and you want a cat that you can pet, look elsewhere.

Red flags don’t mean you can’t adopt.

Just because a cat has a behavioral issue (or issues) doesn’t mean you shouldn’t adopt it. The truth is, finding a perfectly behaved cat is as difficult as finding a perfectly behaved human! Fluffy may have a hard time using the litter box, may scratch things she isn’t supposed to, and may be a little scared of your house at first, but you can still train her. However, if a cat exhibits a lot of issues in the shelter, it may be worth considering whether you can give it the attention and training it deserves.

If you’re ready to adopt, head to your local shelter, and see what cats they have for you!

How to Find a Responsible Dog Breeder

Over the past few years, dog breeders have been getting a bad rap, and sometimes for good reason. You have probably heard of the horrific conditions that many puppy mills are host to, and, as a result, adoption has been seen as the best way to bring a four-legged friend into your household.

Some people, however, would rather purchase a pup from a breeder. Maybe your local shelter doesn’t have the right fit for your household. Perhaps you want to start fresh by raising a new puppy. How can you buy a puppy from a breeder and be certain you made the right decision?

The good news is that there are dog breeders who are responsible! While you shouldn’t buy a puppy from most pet stores, you can find reputable breeders who care about their pups as much as you do!

Finding That Responsible Breeder

You’ll have to do a little digging to find the right breeder. Asking people for referrals should be your first step. Ask your local veterinarian and friends who own healthy pups from breeders for information about where they found their dogs and why they felt confident in those breeders.

PuppiesDo some research on any breeders you come across as options. Questions to ask include:

  • Where are the breeder’s puppies coming from?
  • Are the dogs prone to diseases?

Find out as much as you can before meeting with the breeder.

Breeder Red Flags

Even if your research doesn’t turn up anything of concern, you should still be vigilant when you meet with breeders. Here are some basic red flags to keep an eye out for:

Selling the puppy to you immediately if you have the cash

A responsible breeder will want to know if you’re a competent parent for the pup you’re trying to adopt. Most of the time, an irresponsible breeder is only doing the job for the money and won’t care where their pups find homes.

Refusing to show you where they breed their puppies

A responsible breeder will be more than willing to show you the breeding process, so you can see how healthy the puppy you’re going to adopt will be. If the breeder tells you the facility is off-limits, they may be hiding something.

Not telling you of any possible genetic dangers

Puppies of certain breeds may be prone to specific illnesses or other problems. A good breeder acknowledges this and will give you tips on how to best raise and care for your new family member.

Keeping dogs in poor conditions

If you see dogs who look dirty, cramped, or sickly, don’t adopt from that breeder, and give the Humane Society a call.

Not giving you any references

Your breeder should be willing to give you the information of previous clients to whom you can speak. A breeder who isn’t forthcoming about past clients may be hoping you won’t dig for more information.

A responsible breeder will not do any of the above. They will show you around their facility and disclose the pros and cons to you of adopting their puppies. They won’t give away any of their puppies until they know that you’re the right fit.

While it’s good to consider adopting a dog before buying one, many breeders run clean, healthy, and happy businesses. If you feel like purchasing a dog is a better fit for your family, you can find the right breeder and bring home a puppy that lives a happy and healthy life.

Why You Should Think Twice About Surprising Your Child with a Pet This Christmas

One of the biggest surprises you can get your child for Christmas isn’t the latest game or gadget, but a pet. We’ve all heard the stories of kids being elated as they open up their gifts and get pounced on by a ball of fluff. The thought is enough to make your heart warmer than hot cocoa.

If your child has been asking for a puppy or a kitten for Christmas, you may be tempted to go out and make their dreams come true. However, owning a pet isn’t like owning a new video game console or a bike. A pet is a big responsibility, and you should use logic rather than emotions when considering one.

What’s the problem with Christmas adoption?

Many families that adopt pets during the Christmas season usually do not have any prior pet experience. Instead of making sure they’re capable of owning pets before they make the commitment, families adopt and soon realize the puppy or kitten was more than they bargained for. After a few months the animal is sent to a shelter, the child is upset, and the parents feel awful.

Here are a few important things to consider before surprising your child (or anyone else) with a puppy or kitten for Christmas.

Do you have the time and money?

Being the owner of a pet makes a dent in your wallet. Pet food, visits to the vet, tailoring your home to make it pet-suitable…these all add up. Many parents spend a couple hundred dollars on adoption fees, thinking that’s the most they’ll pay. This is a mistake.

Christmas, PuppyIf you’re a parent who works a lot or finds yourself flooded with extra-curricular activities, you should realize that owning a pet requires time out of the day. You’ll need to be around the house a good deal to take care of your pet, especially during its first few months in your home! If you can’t do that, you may want to hire a pet sitter.

Is your child responsible enough?

A pet can teach your child about responsibility. He or she will have to feed, water, walk, play with, and clean up after it. Parents can’t do all the work!

While this responsibility can help a child mature and realize how difficult it is to take care of something else, if your little one is irresponsible, easily distracted, too young, or too rough with animals, you may have to wait a little while until he or she is ready for a pet.

Can you train your puppy or kitten?

Odds are, you want to surprise your child with a puppy or a kitten and not a full-grown animal. This is fine, but young animals require lots of training. This means patience, determination, and persistence from both you and your child. If you’re unclear on how to train an animal, you’ll want to do more research before you adopt.

Think about it!

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bring home a four-legged friend this Christmas, but you should put some thought into it, do your homework, and prepare beforehand. Do you have the time, money, resources, and responsibility for a puppy or kitten? If so, surprise your child! If not, choose another awesome gift for Christmas this year.

Wish You Could Cuddle a Kitty Without Sneezing? You Can!

If you suffer from pet allergies, you may think that adopting a cat rather than a dog is a better choice. Cats tend to be smaller, so they don’t have as much fur, and they don’t often seek your attention by pouncing all over you, so they’re naturally better for allergies, right?

Actually, cats can be even worse than dogs for allergy sufferers. Why is that?

What causes cat allergies?

Many people think that fur causes allergies, but this is a misconception. In truth, people with cat allergies are allergic to a protein found in the dander, urine, or saliva of a cat. This protein is called Fel d 1, and unlike dog allergens, Fel d 1 can stay in the air for quite a long time.

Reducing Allergy Symptoms

Does this mean you can’t own a cat if you have cat allergies? Not at all!

You can reduce your trouble with allergies by making some changes to your home.

  • Don’t let your cat into your bedroom. — If your feline has been in your bedroom, clean it as thoroughly as possible. Wash the sheets, clean the drapes, and vacuum to remove dander.
  • Replace your carpet with hardwood floors, if possible. — Dander can accumulate in the fibers of carpet. If you can’t replace it, use an allergen-free vacuum, or steam clean your carpet regularly.
  • Clean out your cat’s litter box on a regular basis.
  • Regularly brush and groom your cat to avoid shedding and dander.
  • Install a HEPA filter.
  • Open up the windows or turn on the vents in order to remove allergens easier.
  • Try allergy shots in order to reduce your episodes.
  • Adopt a hypoallergenic breed.

Hypoallergenic Cats

SneezeA hypoallergenic cat is any breed that is less likely to shed or have dander, thus reducing the risk of an allergy attack. It should be noted that there is no breed that is allergy-free, but if you adopt a hypoallergenic cat along with allergy-proofing your home as described above, you can boost the chances of you and your feline living in harmony.

Here are a few hypoallergenic breeds that may surprise you!

  • Balinese — Despite this feline’s fluff, it’s less likely to shed dander, thus making it hypoallergenic.
  • Siberian — A Siberian is even fluffier than a Balinese, yet it doesn’t give off much dander, making it the perfect hypoallergenic cat.
  • Bengal — This breed doesn’t shed as much as other cats and doesn’t need too much grooming, either!
  • Sphynx — The sphynx is the most obvious breed, as it doesn’t have hair, making it one of the most hypoallergenic cats out there.
  • Javanese — These mysterious felines have just one layer of fur, making them great for allergy sufferers.

If you struggle with cat allergies but just can’t imagine living without one, look for a hypoallergenic cat! You could be cuddling sneeze-free in no time.

Red Flags When Adopting a Dog: What to Look for and What to Do

One of the best ways to invite a four-legged-friend into your life is through adoption. There are millions of animals looking for homes. By adopting one, you give it a chance at love and life. Adoption costs little, allows you to fight against puppy mills, and adoption counselors can help find a pup that’s the perfect fit for you.

The process of adoption does require research, thought, and care. At a shelter, you’ll find a variety of dogs with a variety of pasts. Some pups have been abandoned by loving families that can’t care for them anymore. Other dogs have been raised in abusive or uncaring environments, or even without owners at all.

Negative Behaviors

Because of their unfortunate pasts and/or the stress of living in a shelter, some dogs can exhibit negative behaviors. These behaviors can include:

  • Separation anxiety
  • Being possessive/aggressive over their food
  • Peeing indoors
  • Fearfulness
  • Hoarding resources (food, treats, toys, etc.)

Signs of Negative Behavior

Dog, GrowlWhile these specific behaviors may be tough to spot at the adoption center, you can sometimes see the signs.

Here are a few things to look out for while in the shelter:

  • The dog barks at you excessively, growls, or lunges — It may have trouble adjusting to new and strange people and situations.
  • The dog is too calm when you approach it, not reacting at all — This could possibly mean it doesn’t like strangers, or it may not be feeling well.
  • The dog remains at the back of its cage, whimpering and shaking — This may mean that it is afraid of people.
  • The dog barks happily and acts very playfully — This could indicate that the dog is friendly but needs training.

Approach a pup’s kennel calmly. Ask to take the dog for a walk, and see how it reacts around others. Be sure to ask the shelter about the dog’s history to help determine if the pup is right for you.

If a pup exhibits red flags, should you avoid it at all costs?

No, not necessarily. Most dogs you’ll find in shelters are broken, but you can help put the pieces back together into something even better than before.

Here are a few tips for eliminating negative behaviors.

  • If your dog is fearful of others, give it have some space — Some pups take a bit of time to warm up to new owners. Training them won’t happen overnight.
  • Spray the dog with water if it tries to pee in your house — The dog won’t like it, but it won’t hurt the pup.
  • Try crate training in order to reduce separation anxiety.
  • Hire a professional dog trainer if you’re struggling to train your pup.

Remember that no dog is perfect, but with appropriate behavioral training and guidance, your rescue dog has great potential. Do some research before going to the shelter, and keep your eye out for negative behaviors that can be made positive!

5 Questions You Need to Ask to Find a Reputable Shelter

Having a pet is one of life’s great joys, but when making the decision to add an animal to your family, it’s important to remember that your new addition is more than simply a companion – it is a living being that will rely upon you to ensure its safety and care.

Instead of turning to pet shops, where many animals are treated as merchandise, why not look for a new friend at a reputable animal shelter or rescue organization?

One of the best ways to make certain that you are selecting a pet that is appropriate for your lifestyle is to have the assistance of a reputable shelter, with staff that is dedicated to matching the animals in its care with people who will provide them with loving and healthy environments.

Finding an organization with good values and healthy practices for the animals it takes in requires doing a bit of research, but by asking the right questions, you’re sure to find one committed to making perfect matches between animals and owners.

Ask around!

Start by asking friends and neighbors who are pet owners where they got their animals. They’re sure to provide you with plenty of details. And so will your local veterinarian!

Decide whether you want a specific breed.

If you’re interested in a particular breed, you can find rescues that specialize in all types of animals. If you love the idea of caring for a senior or a special needs animal, you can find organizations for these as well.

Ask these questions.

DogOnce you’ve narrowed down your search, ask the following questions to ensure you’ve found a shelter that puts animals’ needs and health first:

  • Does the shelter provide health checks and veterinary care for the animals it receives? Are the animals provided with vaccines, spay/neuter services, and safety identification?

Reputable rescues and shelters will provide all of these services, including microchipping or tattooing animals for future identification.

A shelter that shows concern for how an animal handles different situations will be one that ensures each animal has proper placement for its unique temperament.

  • Does the shelter have a good relationship with other rescues and shelters?

When you check in with local veterinarians, trainers, or other animal professionals, do they say good things about the shelter? People who care about animals and work for their betterment form a small and close-knit community. They know who does good work, and they know who to steer clear of.

  • What is the shelter’s adoption screening process?

Though it may seem silly to you that you have to be interviewed and approved before you can adopt a dog or cat that needs a good home, a shelter that is meticulous in its pursuit of good placements is one that you can have faith in.

  • Does the shelter allow you to tour its facilities?

A place that keeps people away from where the animals are kept is one to be questioned. Shelters should have open-door policies, so you can walk through and see that the animals are being well cared for and that the shelter practices good hygiene.

Finding the right shelter from which to adopt your new family member can take a bit of time, but it’s worth the effort to work with a group that has the right priorities for both you and the animals you love!

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