Adopting a dog is more than an act of love; it’s a life of love. Every day, you’ll look at your dog and know you not only rescued them but also helped open up shelter space for another lovable friend like your pup. Plus, as dog parents at v-dog, we can say with certainty the fulfillment of rescuing a dog is truly unlike anything else. It’s full of joy, snuggles, and often a lot of dog hair!
That said, adopting a dog is a big decision that should be taken seriously. To help you make the right choice for you and your family - whether you have children, other pets, a spouse, roommates, or indoor plants - we put together a guide with tips for rescuing a dog, pet adoption facts, and other things to keep in mind as you make your decision.
Pet adoption facts to empower your decision (adopt don’t shop!)
If you were grappling between adopting a pet or buying one through a different avenue, we think your decision will be more empowered when you know these facts.
6.5 million companion animals are in need every year
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), there are about 6.5 million companion animals in need of a home. To put that number in perspective, that’s about the size of the population in Los Angeles and Chicago combined. Both are two of the largest cities in the United States, only behind New York City.
Each year, approximately 1.5 million animals are euthanized
Devastatingly, the ASPCA also reports that about 670,00 dogs and 860,000 cats are euthanized every year. This is mainly because there are too many animals who need space and there’s not enough space for them.
3.2 million shelter animals are adopted each year
The good news: 1.6 million dogs and 1.6 million cats are adopted every year, according to ASPCA.
The (many) benefits of rescuing a dog
Beyond knowing you saved a life, the greatest gift of all, there are many benefits of rescuing a dog. For one, adopting a rescue dog is generally much more affordable compared to buying one at a pet store. Pet Care Hospital estimates that buying a dog costs between $500 - $1,000. Whereas adopting a pet is between $50 - $200.
Also, doggie greetings and snuggles don’t only make you feel like the most important person in the world - they also have health benefits. A 2017 study showed that humans and dogs alike get a boost in oxytocin — “the love hormone” — when we gently pet our pooches. Oxytocin is important for bonding, friendships, and overall feelings of connection.
How to prepare your home for a rescue dog
First, make sure everyone is on the same page if you’re bringing a pet into a home. Whether you have a partner or roommates, it’s critical that communication is established from the beginning about responsibilities and expectations.
Also, a study from the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP) found that the top reasons people relinquish their pets are: moving, landlords not allowing pets, and the cost of pet maintenance. So we urge you to consider these before pet adoption.
Other ways to prepare your home before bringing back a rescue dog:
- Find a local veterinarian
- If you have plants, breakables, or cleaning supplies on the ground, move them to spots inaccessible to your pet
- Get the essentials: food, treats, leash, collar, water and food bowls, and a dog bed
And remember time will be a critical element to the journey. Knowing the value of patience right from the get-go will set your experience on a realistic and grounded note.
Common questions about pet adoption
Where are pet adoption centers near me?
There are lots of ways to adopt a pet. Petfinder is a great place to start. It’s a wonderful resource with a directory of nearly 11,000 animal shelters and adoption organizations across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
How much does it cost to adopt a dog?
As mentioned above, adopting a dog is about $50 to $200. However, it’s important to note that’s just the beginning. The PDSA reports that the cost of dog parenthood is between $27,074 and $42,545 (depending on the breed). On the other hand, cat parenthood is between $21,917 and $30,942.
How long does it take rescue dogs to adjust?
There is no one right answer to this question as all dogs are unique with their own timelines and personalities. However, a good reference is the 3-3-3 rule, which is essentially preparing for your dog to need 3 days to de-stress, 3 weeks to settle into a household routine, and 3 months to feel “at home".
Other things to keep in mind before adopting a dog
Make sure to get your dog spayed or neutered. The ASPCA lists many reasons spaying/neutering your pet is beneficial including controlling the pet homelessness crisis and preventing uterine infections and breast tumors in female dogs.
Also, we don’t recommend gifting a pet - even an adopted one - unless you are 100% positive the person wants the dog. While this usually comes from a good place, unfortunately, some shelters report high numbers of animals being surrendered to shelters in January. Some say this happens because many give pets as Christmas presents without fully taking into account the responsibility.
BONUS: Adorable dog rescue videos (aww!)
Need more reasons to adopt a pet? They say a picture is worth a thousand words - so let these adorable dog videos speak to your heart!