2017-10-13 / Front Page

Find a diamond in the rough at your local shelter

By Phyllis Beasley, CPDT-KA Owner/Lead Trainer, Praise Dog! Training www.praiseyourdog training.com

Ginger Hetrick’s Shep was adopted as a puppy from the Fairfield County Shelter. Hetrick nursed him back to health after he nearly died from the parvovirus.Ginger Hetrick’s Shep was adopted as a puppy from the Fairfield County Shelter. Hetrick nursed him back to health after he nearly died from the parvovirus.
October is the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ (ASPCA) Adopt a Shelter Dog Month. In recognition of this worthy celebration, this month’s article provides suggestions on selecting your new companion from a city or county animal shelter.

Various sources, including the ASPCA and DoSomething.org, cite the numbers of dogs coming into the country’s shelters as over three million each year. Of these, around 1.6 million dogs (according to ASPCA) are adopted.

Dogs enter shelters as strays or are turned in by their owners for various reasons including inability to financially care for their dogs, because the dogs grew larger than expected, or because of problematic behaviors.

Just because a dog is in a shelter does not mean he would not make your perfect companion.


Ginger Het r ick says adopting Shep is a great success story. Ginger Het r ick says adopting Shep is a great success story. However, there are things you can do to make sure you find your perfect fit with a beautiful shelter dog.

Once you decide you would like to provide a comfortable, loving home for a homeless shelter dog, you need to decide what kind of dog would fit best with your family.

Do you have small children? A puppy about three months old or young dog may be a good choice. A puppy younger than three months old will require more work for housetraining in an already busy household.

The shelter may not have enough background information on a dog that is over two years old to know whether it will be suitable for a home with small children. It is important, though, to recognize all dogs can bite. Even well-behaved children will eventually do something invasive to the dog that is beyond its normal tolerance level, and no dog should ever be left unsupervised with a child.


Don’t overlook the older dogs. They may be just the right fit for your family. The Jasper County Shelter estimated Sasha’s age at 18, but owner Jennifer Staton says she is probably more like a very happy 13 year old. Don’t overlook the older dogs. They may be just the right fit for your family. The Jasper County Shelter estimated Sasha’s age at 18, but owner Jennifer Staton says she is probably more like a very happy 13 year old. Do you work long hours? An older dog would do best. Puppies can only be left alone or crated for one hour per one month of life, plus one. A three month old puppy will need you to come home to relieve him after four hours. Unless you work close to home and can come home at lunch or are willing to hire a pet sitter, you cannot adequately care for a young puppy’s physical or mental needs.

Do you live in an apartment or have a small yard? Do you live in a busy city area or neighborhood? An energetic dog that requires a lot of exercise would not be a good fit for someone in an apartment, unless you are prepared to find activities for your dog to release some of that energy.


This is Sasha after she found the good life with the Statons. This is Sasha after she found the good life with the Statons. For example, a Siberian Husky (and yes, these dogs can be found in shelters) was bred to run for miles. If he is not given the opportunity to run and expend his energy, he may find an outlet for that energy by tearing up things in your house.

A dog that is kept in an apartment or in the city will need to be walked frequently. If this is the case, you may encounter many other people walking their dogs so a dog that gets along well with other dogs would be a good fit.

Even if you have a yard, dogs do not get enough exercise by themselves in yards. They still need owners who will take the time to play fetch or tug with them.

Do you want a purebred or do you prefer a mixed breed dog? Don’t neglect the shelter as a source for a purebred dog. About 25 percent of the dogs in shelters are purebred. Many are there because their owners did not select the right breed for their lifestyle.


Marti Hartley’s Paddy is a purebred Standard poodle found as a stray. Marti adopted her from the City of Columbia Animal Shelter, groomed her and has provided her with obedience training and lots of love. Marti Hartley’s Paddy is a purebred Standard poodle found as a stray. Marti adopted her from the City of Columbia Animal Shelter, groomed her and has provided her with obedience training and lots of love. So how do you know what to expect from the shelter dog? Ask the shelter if they have per formed a temperament test on the dog. Ask them what they know about the dog’s history and what they have observed about the dog while it has been in the shelter.

However, some dogs that may seem shy and withdrawn at the shelter may simply be depressed or afraid of the noise and other dogs. Once they get home, they may blossom into happier, more confident dogs.

Ask the shelter if the dog gets along with other dogs and if the dog has been tested with cats or small dogs. Shelter staff and volunteers should be able to provide insight for you.


Paddy after being adopted Paddy after being adopted Are you concerned the shelter dog may have behavior issues? If the shelter staff has tested the dog’s temperament they can provide valuable information. You could consider enrolling the assistance of a qualified trainer to help you make an objective decision about the dog you want to adopt. You can certainly help ensure the success of your new companion’s integration into your home by immediately enrolling him in a reward-based obedience training class.

Of course, I recommend this for all dogs, whether they come from a shelter, a rescue group, or are obtained as puppies from a private source.

Celebrate October and save a life!



Emily Allred’s Cosmo came from the City of Columbia Animal Shelter and is now living a life well loved. Emily Allred’s Cosmo came from the City of Columbia Animal Shelter and is now living a life well loved.

Emily Allred has transformed her shelter dogs with training and an outlet for their energy. Here is Emily and former City of Columbia shelter dog Nova at a Flyball tournament. Emily Allred has transformed her shelter dogs with training and an outlet for their energy. Here is Emily and former City of Columbia shelter dog Nova at a Flyball tournament.
About 25 percent of the dogs in shelters are purebred. Dawn O’Cain adopted Luger about two weeks ago from the City of Columbia shelter.About 25 percent of the dogs in shelters are purebred. Dawn O’Cain adopted Luger about two weeks ago from the City of Columbia shelter.


Ryan Dawkins could not resist these faces. Hank, on the left, came from the Gaffney shelter and Quincy was adopted from Greenville Animal Care Services. Ryan also reminds us that October is National Pit Bull Awareness Month. Ryan Dawkins could not resist these faces. Hank, on the left, came from the Gaffney shelter and Quincy was adopted from Greenville Animal Care Services. Ryan also reminds us that October is National Pit Bull Awareness Month.

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