Which shelters meet your adoption needs

Published8/5/2008 12:05 AM

Q. I want to adopt a dog, but the different kinds of rescues have me confused as to where to start my search?

- Kris Melnick, Winfield


A. The animal community is as complex and diverse as the variety of homeless animals it services and re-homes, so your confusion is warranted. Hopefully I can shed some light on the topic.

Shelters and rescues have shared common goals that consist of providing humane treatment and re-homing of the animals in their care, educating and providing resources for pet owners to stay committed to their pets, and providing adoptable animals that are spayed/neutered and vaccinated.

I recommend you research the type of dog you want and then investigate the traits of the breed to evaluate if those traits match your lifestyle. Even when looking at mixed breeds it is good to have some base knowledge of breed indicative traits. Examples would be Jack Russell Terriers' high energy level and need for mental stimulation; or some large breed dogs like a Rottweiler for instance, who would rather sit at your feet and be pet then play fetch after their puppy stage of their life.

At DuPage County Animal Care and Control, we participate a program allows us to evaluate an animal's behavior and interests and match them to your preferences so that you and the pet you take home are as happy and fulfilled as you both can be.

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Once you have identified the perfect pet match for your lifestyle, begin by looking at your local shelters. Animals arrive daily and the variety to choose from might surprise you. On average, about 30 percent of the dogs in United States shelters are purebred animals. You may also browse adoptable pets online at www.petfinder.com.

I recommend you restrict your search to your local area so that you will have the opportunity to meet and greet your new best friend before adoption.

Each types of rescue serves an important role in the community.

Together we make a difference through partnerships, respect, cooperation and communication so that animals and people may benefit.

Each rescue and shelter provides for a specific niche that is needed locally. But any shelter will help you find a pet suited just for you. All you have to do is get started. Good luck finding that special dog.

Whether it is animal control rescuing abandoned animals, or specific breeds needing individual attention, or the small animals you may not realize are abundant in shelters (rabbits, hamsters, ferrets, birds, etc.), what is surprising at the end of the day is that we all exist on the same page, which is to find forever homes for the animals that find themselves homeless.


• Kerry Vinkler is director of DuPage County Animal Care and Control. If you would like to submit a question, e-mail animalcontrol@Dupageco.org or send a letter to 120 N. County Farm Road, Wheaton, IL 60187. You can also visit www.dupageco.org/animalcontrol, or call (630) 407-2800.

Shelters defined

Here's a look at the different kinds of shelters and rescues to help you understand the terminology.

Open admission shelters: (Municipal Shelters) These shelters act as a huge funnel, never turning away an animal in need. These shelters receive animals surrendered by owners or strays. While the agency is responsible for enforcement, the shelter goes performs adoptions in the shelter and off-site, hosting volunteer opportunities, as well as foster programs and community outreach.

Locally, at DuPage County Animal Care and Control is the only open admission shelter in DuPage County.

Limited access shelters: (Humane societies) These shelters often help the overflow of adoptable animals from open admission shelters. They also provide for owner surrendered animals but often ask the owner to participate in the re-homing of their pet by serving as a foster or being added to the waiting list of incoming animals.

Other limited access shelters limit their intakes to the overflow of adoptable animals found at the open admission shelter.

No-kill shelters: There are different types of no-kill shelters. Many accept the overflow of highly adoptable animals from open admission shelters, or take in owner surrenders. Others provide care to animals at risk that need extensive vet care or those that have behavior issues that require long-term behavior modification and every combination in between.

Animal sanctuaries: Sanctuaries typically do not perform adoptions, or provide for only a limited number of adoptions. Their approach is to provide quality care to the animals in most need (either for health or behavior issues) for the duration of their lives.

Animal rescues: This network usually works through foster homes without having a physical shelter. These rescues might be breed specific (purebred animals) or take all breeds. They depend primarily on foster care, the Internet and off-site adoption events at local stores, fairs, to provide visibility for their animals to find forever homes.

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