(BPT) - Millions of people every year open their hearts and homes to rescue dogs to find their new best friend. It's an act of compassion that is beneficial and fulfilling for person and pet.
But, a new study shows adoption is not an option for everyone. In fact, even if shelters were cleared, there are not enough dogs for everyone who wants one.
Findings from a recent study by the Moore Research Group show an annual demand of at least 8.1 million dogs and growing. Yet, according to the latest research from Mississippi State University, there are only 2.6 million dogs available for adoption from shelters every year. That means 5.5 million people looking for dogs need to search elsewhere. And, without options for those people, we would simply run out of dogs.
Where to find dogs
So, where do you go when you are ready to welcome a four-legged friend with a wet nose and wagging tail into your home? It starts with what you are looking for.
You might be OK with any dog, no matter the size, mix, age or temperament that nuzzles its way into your heart. But, for others, specific needs often require certain canine traits only found in individual breeds.
Parents of children with allergies might need a dog breed to be hypoallergenic. Those living in big cities may not have enough space for a dog with high exercise needs. Families with small children may need a dog with patience and playfulness. Some people seek a dog for home or personal protection. Having a range of options increases the chances you will find the perfect match and a dog won't end up in a shelter due to a poor match.
Snap up rescues
Adoption is a wonderful option that comes with the benefit of giving a homeless animal a second chance.
But, this new research from Mississippi State University also shows that thanks to the good work of animal shelters and rescue organizations, more lives are being saved and fewer dogs are homeless in shelters.
When looking to adopt, there are several different possibilities to choose from, including shelters, rescues and animal control facilities.
Before you adopt, ask what is known about the dog, including its age, breed, temperament and health. Has it been seen by a vet, is it spayed or neutered and microchipped? Spend some time with the dog, introduce it to other family members to see how it interacts. Finally, make sure you fully understand the organization's policies and procedures so you have peace of mind should the adoption not work out as hoped.
Buy from a good breeder
If you are looking for specific traits in your canine companion, getting a dog directly from a breeder gives you a great opportunity to learn about your new pup from an expert.
Be prepared to wait as sometimes a breeder might not have puppies that are at least 8 weeks old.
If you can, visit the facility in person or have someone else visit on your behalf. If not, ask for references and get information about the puppy's parents and its health records. Ask if there's a guarantee, so you can go home feeling prepared and confident about the road ahead! A responsible breeder will not only share that information, they might interview you.
Purchase at a pet store
Pet stores can be a great place to get your next pup if you just do a little research. Does the store look and smell clean and is the staff friendly and knowledgeable? Does the puppy look good from head to tail? Ask the staff where the puppies come from and if the store owners have visited the breeders.
Are the breeders USDA licensed or do they participate in any certification programs? Ask about the puppy's health, has it been seen by a vet? What is its daily exercise and routine care? Has it been socialized with other dogs and people? Do they provide a guarantee on its health?
Find friends or family
When someone you know has a litter, news travels fast. Don't let a puppy's cuteness skew your judgment. When you talk about the dogs, don't be shy - ask questions. They should give you a good picture of what life will be like with your new pup.
As consumer demand for dogs and puppies continues to grow, having options available for selecting your next pet is essential. The right choice is the first step in establishing that deep and lasting bond with your loyal companion. A variety of responsible options ensures everyone who wants a dog can responsibly get one. To learn more about the availability of dogs and finding the right one for you, visit protectpetchoice.com.