Want a Dog? Go Local

By Deborah Taylor-French

Dog adoption and rescue isn’t just great for dogs. People who work to save abandoned animals find community, connection and purpose. Volunteers work as foster parents, rescue agents and bus drivers to get dogs to safety and into new homes.

Listening to rescue stories is fascinating.

I find myself in awe of the extraordinary efforts and time volunteers devote to helping homeless dogs. Rescue activists help animal shelters by providing foster care to older, special needs and hard to place animals and they work to find dogs forever families.

As for dogs, mutts and mixes are often the very best choice for family pets yet some families want purebred dogs. Not everyone may not know that over 25% of all dogs in animal shelters are purebreds. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of dog rescues define their nonprofit mission and goal to save the dogs of a specific breed.

So if you are looking for a new dog, go local. Go to a shelter or a rescue.

And maybe, you won’t just get a new dog.

A few years ago after combing local animal shelters and their websites, I still hadn’t found a dog. Plus I had called and emailed local dog rescues. We needed a young and energetic dog because we had a young active kid. And our house posed the challenge of several  staircases.  We needed a young dog who would become a part of our active lives. After months of thinking about what type of dog would be able to live with us, I started widening my search to over a hundred miles out-of-town.

And I kept coming up with zero dogs.

“This just can’t be,” I said, shaking my head. “The right dog is waiting for us.”

One winter morning I searched another county, animal shelter website. This shelter had over two hundred dogs and was a two-hour distance by car. But then I saw her,  a black miniature poodle.  A “Not for Adoption” notice crisscrossed her photo. So I called the shelter.

After greeting me, a staff person said, “In this dog’s file, I see that she has failed her temperament test.”

“Why?” I asked.

“I’m sorry,” the staff person added, “…but she is not adoptable.”

I wouldn’t accept that so after a quick internet search, I emailed a dog rescue group near to the shelter.

By midnight that day, within eight hours of my email, a dog rescue volunteer entered that county animal shelter and met the black poodle.

The next day I received a call. Over the phone, John, a dog rescue volunteer said, “Yes, she bites. I had forgotten how sharp puppy teeth are. I think she’s about six months. Last night, I found her a home.”

“Thank you,” I said, feeling a bit sad. I guess I hadn’t made it clear I was looking for a dog.

He said, “Oh, did you want to adopt her?”

“Yes, I’m looking for a young dog. And I’m so glad you saved her.” I knew that there had to be more dogs like her, waiting for adoption.

A week later, I visited a local shelter and learned I’d just missed a litter of cockapoo pups. An abandoned mother dog had given birth to 13 puppies!

I visited three more nearby shelters. At the Petaluma Animal Shelter, I met Sydney. He was a year old. He demonstrated his high energy by yapping and jumping three feet high for my attention.

He’d been waiting for three weeks.

That’s how we got our dog, Sydney, and somebody else got a little black poodle.

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