By Courtney Cerbin, Iowa Director of Great Plains Pointer Rescue
For many, the thought of getting a new rescue pet is an exciting one. But what some people fail to realize is how their life will change once this pet arrives. Before you jump in with both feet, ask yourself one question “Am I rescue ready?”
How can I adopt a rescue pet? Many reputable rescues have websites that are easy to maneuver and provide detailed information about their organization and how to contact them. Expect to fill out an application for adoption. The rescue organization will contact your veterinarian to ensure that you have kept all of your current pets (or past pets) up-to-date with vaccines and routine medical care. Rescue organizations will also ask to do a home visit to make sure the home is suitable for the animal you would like to adopt. If a dog is known to jump short fences, a home with a 4 foot fence would not be a good fit. For this reason, we do home visits. Home visits are also beneficial when there are other pets in the home. It is of the utmost importance that all the animals get along.
Is this pet a fit for me and my lifestyle? There are several times in rescue that pets arrive as strays and there is little known history of the animal. Rescue foster families bring these pets in and evaluate them. The foster family will work on house training, potty training, crate training (dogs), and basic obedience training. Before the adoption you will know everything that there is to know about the dog. There are always new situations that arise with your new rescue pet. Ease them through it and should you ever have any questions, contact the rescue for answers.
Do I have enough time? Rescue pets take a little time to adjust. Like any human starting a new job, there are always hiccups along the way. Rescue pets are the same way. They need time to get used to your routine and lifestyle. If you work 12 hours a day and have no one else at home to care for the pet, adoption might not be a good choice at this time. Rescue pets thrive on love and security. In order to have that “perfect” pet, it takes a lot of your time.
Do I have enough money? I have heard people say “Pets are like children, they cost a lot of money.” In some cases, it is true. Dogs require yearly vet visits to update shots, Heartworm testing every year, and most importantly spaying and neutering your pet. Monthly costs include: food, treats, toys, Heartworm preventative, flea and tick preventative, shampoos and conditioners, and emergency vetting costs in case your pet gets into something they shouldn’t have.
Am I responsible enough? A rescue pet is not something that you just get and someone else takes care of. A puppy is always fun in the beginning. They are so cute and cuddly but whether it is a 6 month old puppy or a 6 year old adult, they require the same level of care and exercise. Unfortunately, after the newness of getting a new pet has warn off, no one seems to have time to care for the pet. The promises of walking, feeding, and caring for a pet are long forgotten. This leaves the parents to care for the animal. This is how most dogs end up in shelters fighting for their lives and cowering in a corner because they don’t understand what they did wrong.
Am I willing to take care of the pet in their later years? Now that your buddy has started to get up in years, are you willing to care for them? Senior animals require a little more time and understanding. With older age comes a greater responsibility to do what is right by the pet. Failing hips, cancer, and other health issues that affect our pet’s quality of life are difficult things to come to term with.
Seek a professional veterinarian’s opinion as to the best way to deal with any health issues that may arise. Many ailing seniors are dumped at shelters to live out their final days in a cold pen with no blanket and dogs barking non-stop day and night. Only to be walked to a bare room with people they don’t know, then placed on a cold table and will take their last breath wondering why you weren’t there.
I have experienced the pain of ending a beloved rescue pet’s life. It was not easy, but it was right by Ms. Maddie. She was a rescue girl I had gotten from a city shelter in Kansas City. She was coughing when I got her so we went directly to the vet. Maddie had pneumonia, kennel cough, was Heartworm positive, hemorrhaging in her eyes and had Blastomycosis (a fungal infection when untreated solidifies in the lungs and the dog struggles to breathe). I made the decision to end Maddie’s suffering.
I struggled with the fact that Maddie was someone’s pet. She was left to suffer alone in that shelter. My eyes filled with tears as I held Maddie and felt her final breathe. Her tail was wagged through the entire thing. I only knew Maddie for 24 hours and watching her slip away was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. But it was my responsibility to help ease her pain. I did what the previous owners couldn’t do.
Adopting a pet is a huge decision and should not be taken lightly. So when you staring at those sweet brown puppy eyes and are making that consideration, ask yourself one question: “Am I rescue ready?”
About the author
Courtney Cerbin has been involved with Great Plains Pointer Rescue for almost 5 years. She currently holds the position of Iowa Director. Courtney is also a special education middle school teacher and volleyball coach in Des Moines, Iowa where she resides with her 4 pointers (Herky, Sage, Aadi, and Callie) and her 15 1/2 year old Siberian Husky, Makoa.