By Dan Pool, editor
After a few nights of howling and some lingering confusion on where the bathroom is located, the newest member of our household has settled in wonderfully.
She gets along well with our other dogs, the neighbors and their dogs and has yet to chew up anything valuable.
This dog came straight from the county shelter and, according to the inmate trustee who helped load her, she wouldn’t have been there much longer. One way or the other, her time was about up. The Pickens County shelter is not a no-kill shelter, nor can they afford to be with the space they have.
I am a committed dog-liker, not a dog lover. I believe dogs are made to sleep either in the yard or the garage. (My wife, it should be noted, does not share this ideology.) Nor do I have any strong emotions when I see dogs running loose in rural areas.
But a trip to the shelter tests my resolve. Seeing all those dogs and knowing that many, maybe even most, won’t be going to good homes is tough. What was particularly shocking when we picked up our new dog was the number of unique breeds represented in the shelter.
I would have assumed that most of the animals in the shelter were strays, dogs found hungry and roaming or getting into trouble by searching for food in subdivisions. But this was not the case. There was an American Bulldog, a Rottweiler, a large white fluffy husky mix – all apparently given up by someone or some family. The large white dog’s kennel card said it had gotten too large for the owners.
It’s a challenge for the animal shelter employees to care for the true strays they are called to pick-up, there is no reason for them to be further burdened by people who didn’t fully think through dog ownership when they picked out a new “man’s best friend.”
A big exception here are the dogs that were strays that someone housed for a while and tried to keep before turning them over to the shelter -- at least they tried -- and when the dog found you, not the other way around, no one should be blamed because it didn’t work out.
Animal Shelter Director Cindy Wilson said the majority of people who turn dogs into the shelter are very concerned for the animals and are trying to do the right thing for strays or the animals they are no longer able to care for.
I strongly encourage you to think long and hard about whether you are really ready to care for a four-legged beast “til death do you part” before you allow your heartstrings to be tugged by a cute dog you spot in a parking lot. Don’t take a dog home (or let your kids talk you into one) unless you have a real plan in place for where it will stay all day while you are at work and where it will sleep and who will look after it on the weekends if you are away.
Similarly, picking out a puppy while living in an apartment and just hoping the owner “will be cool” isn’t going to end well.
For those that are ready to add a furry member to your family, give the local shelter or Pickens Animal Rescue a chance to provide a loyal, caring companion.
A few weeks ago in the Progress, local veterinarian Lyn Lewis pointed out the health advantages - and they are numerous - for adopting a mixed-breed. Besides, everybody loves a mutt.
But even if you are looking for a specific breed, check in with the shelter/PAR, you will be surprised by the wide range of critters they have.