“Dog, Free to a Good Home.” For some of us that’s the call to adopt a family pet, but how do you know if adopting a free pet is a good choice?
Adopting a free dog can have hidden costs. Often, people who are giving away puppies or older dogs don’t have the money to maintain their health. If they don’t have the dog’s health and shot records on hand, the likelihood of that pet not having up to date shots or having a bad health history is very high. Before you adopt a free dog that doesn’t have his or her health records take a couple of hours to visit with the family. Closely observe the dogs’ activity. If a dog is lethargic, skittish, or sensitive to touch it could indicate a major health issue like hip dysplasia or congestive heart failure. If you feel that the dog is acting abnormally request the family to provide you with a letter releasing the dog’s veterinary records and get them from the vet. Any time you have adopted a free dog, assume you will be paying for it in veterinary fees as you will most likely have to update their shots, get them checked for worms, and have them spayed or neutered.
Most often pets are given away due to the family no longer being able to afford to care for them, either in terms of medical care or simply supplying them with food and love. Some times a dog is offered free because of behavioral issues. This is particularly the case with adult dogs whose families are keeping one or more dogs but ‘just don’t have the time for this one.’ Families with pets who have behavioral issues may be desperate to get rid of the dog and might not be forthcoming about why they wish to get rid of their pet. A lot of times these behavioral issues, like urinating in the house or chewing the remote control can be cured with a little more attention and some training. Make sure you have the time and patience to properly retrain the dog before you commit to moving it to a new home. Sometimes potty accidents can also be a sign of a health issue, like a bladder infection. Depending on the owners, they may or may not have realized this and it may be a simple solution.
The biggest concern for dogs that are singularly being offered up, while the family keeps other dogs they had, is biting. Some dogs will eventually become aggressive towards children and the family may decide to get rid of the pet. While most families are very honest about biting, as they have children themselves, they may code it as: “Fido really needs a calm, older, family.” Learn to read between the lines and then ask pointed questions like: “Has Fido ever bitten anyone?” Make sure every member of the household the dog will be living in meets the pooch before you take him. The minimum amount of time for getting to know a free pet should be half an hour, although an hour is best. This will ensure that the dog has become comfortable enough to display any displeasing habits, or that an anxious dog can calm down enough for you to get to know him or her.
Adopting free dog is not only a great way to get a family pet for less but can also save a pets life as they may be headed to the pound if no one adopts them. By asking pointed questions and getting to know the pet you would like to adopt you can help make sure that it is the right fit for your family and avoid the free dog blues.