Emily Jaycox editorial

Ways to help an overburdened animal shelter

Spring is here and with it comes warmer weather and looking forward to getting outdoors. The season may be coincidental, but there seems to be an overflow on social media lately of overwhelmed local animal shelters pleading with people to consider adoption.

I’m a sucker for sad puppy dog eyes and I wish I could give a new furry friend a home. It would be well-loved and enjoyed, that’s for sure, but ultimately reason wins out and I know it isn’t a good time right now.

Unfortunately, that knowledge comes from experience.

When we first bought our new home six years ago, I was excited to fulfill a lifetime wish of owning a dog; it could finally happen. With my husband preferring a sweet-looking puppy, and me instantly transfixed by an older dog that seemed to look into my soul, we wound up adopting both of them.

While it turned out that we bit off more than we could chew, there seemed to be no limit to what these two pals could devour — literally — from a couch, to the shoes I wore at my wedding, to a cherished childhood toy I’d had since I was five years old.

Through no fault of their own, those two pups had some issues that we just weren’t equipped to handle at the time.

Walks twice a day, outdoor time and lots of toys weren’t enough engagement for these two high-energy, intelligent dogs. In the end, though it was one of the hardest decisions we’ve ever made, it was ultimately kinder to let them go. We hope they are happier where they are, but we still miss them, several years later.

We are also still completing repairs to some of the damage done to our house by our canine friends. The advice I’ve been given when the “puppy fever” comes over me is to go hug a hole in our wall instead, to remind myself of the realities of owning a dog.

I tell this story, not to discourage people from adopting deserving dogs; quite the opposite. Just take my experience as a precautionary tale and make sure you’re ready first so you can have the best possible start with your new best friend.

Owning a dog is a huge responsibility, so there are some things you should consider to ensure you are fully prepared to take on all dog ownership entails before bringing home a new member of your family.

Bringing home a new dog shouldn’t be an impulse buy. It’s a significant financial commitment, as well as a time consideration of how much effort you’re realistically willing and able to put into training and exercise.

Some suggestions for getting ready are: be prepared to spend upwards of $2,000 when you first bring Fido home, between adoption fees, kennels, leashes, food bowls, other supplies you will need and booster shots at the vet, etcetera.

Make sure your dog will have a safe, fully enclosed outdoor space where they can run and stretch their legs, without needing to be tethered for long periods of time, as well as a comfy, warm indoor space they can call their own.

Pet insurance may be another thing you’ll want to consider, as well as budgeting for ongoing costs.

If you’re an animal lover who’s heart strings go out to overrun shelters, but you are currently unable to adopt a dog or cat, there are other ways to support your local shelters.

They are always in need of food and supplies. Consider making a monetary donation or dropping off some pet food. Your shelter may have a preference based on their current needs, such as blankets or old towels, so don’t be afraid to ask if you’re unsure.

While you might not be in a position to adopt, it doesn’t take much time to share a post, and who knows? Maybe one of your contacts will fall in love with a featured pooch and be an excellent match.

Fostering a dog or cat, if you’re able, can also be extremely helpful for local shelters in relieving their burden, and may allow them to make room for more animals in need.

If you’re already a pet owner it’s a good idea to get your cat or dog spayed or neutered to cut down on the possibility of unwanted animals.

If you are in the market for a dog, consider adopting from a shelter rather than buying from a breeder.

While I don’t think there is necessarily anything wrong with buying from a reputable breeder, there are many dogs in shelters waiting for a home. Be aware though, that the shelter may not know each’s dog’s full history, so you’ll need to be committed to dealing with any baggage they may come with.

Before you bring home a dog, it’s a good idea to do some research on dog training techniques, or where you can find support locally for training.

There are many wonderful rescue dogs that deserve a chance, and if you’re not able to offer them a home, remember there are still several ways you can help.