Last Saturday was Clear the Shelter day in DFW. This was my second one. My first one I wrote about two years ago.
One of my friends on Facebook posted about their confusion about this day. She said that for the majority of the year, these shelters were pretty particular about who can adopt these pups and during this event, they practically throw a puppy in your lap! I think this is a very legitimate concern, and while I can’t speak for other shelters, I can tell you my perspective from volunteering at the SPCA.
(I do also want to say that I am in no way employed by the SPCA and I do not speak on their behalf. I have been volunteering there for 2 years so I will speak from that experience only, though I have volunteered in various parts of the organization).
So to answer this question, I want to address some of the main questions I get from potential adopters, so here we go.
- Where do these pups come from?
The top three places dogs enter the SPCA is through owner surrender, rescue and investigation seize, and other shelters.
Owner surrenders are not horrible owners who stopped loving their pups and gave them away. Usually, there are extenuating circumstances around the surrender – the owners are moving to a place the dogs can’t go, financial or medical reasons, a new family member is allergic, etc. Sometimes it’s even a recent adopter returning a pup because it turned out to not be a good match for the family. This is not a bad situation either. In fact, it helps us know more about the dog and what might be a better match for them.
Our rescue and investigation department does deal with some abusive situations. But most situations I have seen were hoarding situations. The owner, for whatever reason, has become too overwhelmed with their animals, and they are unable to care for them. Neglect sets in and the SPCA steps in. Our dog Teddy came from one of these hoarding situations. He is a loving dog that didn’t have a whole lot of human interaction before coming into our home. Now he sleeps on our couch.
They do also help other shelters by taking on dogs when the shelter gets too overwhelmed. Sometimes it’s because of natural disaster in that area, sometimes it’s just an influx of animals to that shelter. The one thing that is different about these dogs is that sometimes they don’t know the history of these dogs. Every shelter deals with dog intake differently. However, the dogs do go through the SPCA’s intake process (see below) like any dog coming through the door.
- Are they spayed or neutered?
Yes, every dog on the adoption floor has been spayed/neutered, microchipped, and all of their vaccinations are up to date. Before these dogs go onto the adoption floor, they receive a full check up with our vet clinic and continue to receive vet care as needed. They are also observed for any behavioral issues, though some issues may not present themselves until later, or even after in the home.
If there are behavioral issues, they have animal behaviorists on site to work with them, as well as trained behavior volunteers and behavior fosters (who will take them in their home to observe them in that setting and work with them). Not every dog works a lot with the behaviorist, though. Only if they present with major issues. Our behavior volunteers and dog walking/animal handling volunteers do continue to interact with the dogs on a daily basis, and might even teach them a trick or two. If they do show some strange behavior, it is documented and the dog is set up for a new behavior evaluation.
The SPCA cannot guarantee that any dog is housebroken, but they can talk about being shelter trained. That means that within our shelter and on the shelter’s schedule, the dog has had little to no accidents in their kennel. But in my personal experience being a pet sitter, behavior foster, and dog owner, dogs usually can have one or two accidents in the first week during that transition period. Puppies will have a lot more accidents.
These dogs are loved daily and well-known by the staff and volunteers. The adoption counseling volunteers are trained to help find the best matches for the people who walk through those doors. They love putting the Adopted signs on their kennels, but they also love those dogs in those kennels. They want the match to be successful because a lot of hard, loving work went into the care of that animal. No matter if it’s a Clear the Shelter day or a typical Tuesday, they want what’s best for that animal and for the potential adopter.
The SPCA didn’t clear the shelter this year. They did have some longer-term residents find their families on Saturday, and there were so many happy tears and pictures during that time. They still had 10 dogs on the floor at closing, but I know that those dogs will go home soon. Because I’ve seen dogs that never seem to be a match find the perfect home on a random weekday. They still have a special until Labor day – all dogs, puppies, cats, and kittens are $25. So, if you weren’t able to get to the SPCA on Saturday, I hope you will stop by and find your perfect pet soon! Check out their site for the potential pups at spcafindapet.com!