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August 2008  
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Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks
Animal adoption is a rewarding way to find a new friend and family member.

Every year, thousands of animal shelters are overwhelmed by massive amounts of homeless, neglected and abused critters. While they may not all look like Westminster Kennel Club champions or the makings of a Fancy Feast commercial star, many people have found their newest lovable pal at a local animal shelter. Besides the satisfaction of bettering the life of a four-legged friend, there are many other benefits of adopting pets.

Although puppies and kittens are undeniably precious, many individuals and families find that adopting an adult pet is more conducive to their living arrangements and lifestyle. Mature animals will give you a better idea of their temperament, adult size and physical features. Many older dogs are already house-trained and may respond to a few commands. Often, more mature and calmer personalities work well with both older, elderly individuals and families with young children who may not want the stress of potty training another little one in the house! 

Many people think that shelter animals have more problems, both behavioral and physical, than purebred pets. While many shelter critters do suffer from the short- and long-term consequences of owner ignorance, most animals quickly recover with the patience and attention of a loving new guardian. 

Another big myth is that mixed pets are inferior to purebreds when, in fact, inbreeding is the major cause of most recurring medical problems in animals. If you’re really interested in owning a purebred, however, there’s a big chance that your local pound has your dream pet; sadly, because of mass breeding practices like illegal “puppy mills,” many rescued purebreds end up at shelters. 

Most shelters give arriving animals thorough evaluations and proper vaccinations before they go up for adoption. It is also standard for pounds to screen animals for certain habits, temperaments and behaviors to ensure that individuals find the right pet for their lifestyle. If you go onto adoption websites, there will likely be descriptions of each animal that include information about whether they get along with small children, certain genders and other pets. 

Many pound pups and cats are already spayed and neutered, which will save you quite a bit of money. If they’re too young, shelters will sometimes give a voucher for a free spay or neuter. Not only are you making a difference in one creature’s life, you’re helping prevent animal overpopulation.

Not a cat or dog person? Don’t worry - many shelters have rabbits, birds, ferrets and other pets. Some places even rescue goats and horses for adoption! They all just want to go home with you.

When choosing a shelter pet, do take the time to learn about your new pal’s history and needs. The pound should be able to give you tips as to your animal’s likes and dislikes and will recommend any extra care from which your pet may benefit.

Research has shown that owning a pet comes with many emotional and physical health benefits. When you adopt your animal, you’ll have the extra comfort in knowing that you helped save the life of a companion you’ll never know how you lived without. 


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