Five questions to ask before deciding if you’re ready to adopt a shelter dog
If you think your home is ready to adopt a dog or cat, what’s the next step?
Here are five questions to answer:
▪ 1. Have you tried fostering a dog or cat first? Municipal kennels usually are eager to have people take in cats and dogs even if it’s not on a permanent basis. Serving as a foster home for a dog or cat can also be a good training run for adopting a pet full time.
READ MORE: Miami-Dade’s stray dog problem: full kennels and a plea to keep them in the neighborhood
▪ 2. Are you planning to move? Housing is the No. 1 reason owners surrendered their dogs, according to data collected between 2018 and 2020 by 24Petwatch, a microchip company. As the rental market tightened in 2021 and 2022, shelter managers reported tenants finding it harder to secure homes where the owner allowed pets. So even if your current living situation allows for a dog, consider whether you might be apartment hunting in the future. And it wouldn’t hurt to confirm a landlord’s existing pet-friendly policy will continue. “It’s not just: Are you going to move?” said Flora Beal, public affairs manager for Miami-Dade County’s Animal Services Department. “It’s also: Have you checked with your landlord first?”
▪ 3. Would an older dog be the best fit? Some rescue groups are dedicated solely to senior dogs, a label that the American Animal Hospital Association applies for dogs and cats that have passed through 75% of their expected lifespan. Advocates for older dogs point out they’re likely to be fairly mellow and predictable in temperament, compared to younger ones. Especially if the other option is a dog closer to the puppy stage. Still, an older dog likely means a faster arrival of health issues that often come with advanced age.
▪ 4. Are you happy to add pet expenses to your budget? Owning a dog isn’t cheap, but neither are restaurants, vacations and many hobbies. So file pet ownership under life enrichment but with the responsibility that comes with caring for a new household member. A 2022 survey by Rover, which runs an online listing for dog walkers, found dog owners reported recurring canine expenses of $40 to $290 a month. The widest range within that budget: dog food, from $18 monthly for kibble to nearly $200 for refrigerated gourmet offerings. Note: The list of core dog expenses doesn’t including boarding for trips away from home, which runs $35 to $60 a day for top Rover.com listings in the Miami area.
▪ 5. Have you spent some time at a shelter first? Most municipal shelters have active volunteer programs, where people are trained to help walk and socialize dogs living there. It can be a good way to get to know various dogs up for adoption, too, while helping brighten day-to-day conditions for animals even if one doesn’t come home with you.
How to help with stray pets in Miami-Dade
To adopt a pet: https://www.miamidade.gov/global/service.page?Mduid_service=ser159925122910773
To foster a pet: https://www.miamidade.gov/global/service.page?Mduid_service=ser1599345590627984 or ASDFoster@miamidade.gov
To volunteer: https://www.miamidade.gov/global/service.page?Mduid_service=ser159839177136735 or VolunteerASD@miamidade.gov
To donate: https://www.miamidade.gov/global/animals/donations.page
To report animal cruelty: Please call 311