When people go to an animal shelter, they expect to see lots of mixed breed dogs of all ages, sizes, colors, and personalities. What they don’t usually expect to see are lots of purebred dogs. But in reality, about a third of the dogs who end up in shelters are purebreds. Along with the collie-shepherd mixes and cockapoos are collies, shepherds, cockers and poodles. There are labs, goldens, Dalmatians, chows, beagles, bassets, Dobermans, boxers, Chihuahuas, shelties, pointers, poms, Lhasas, Danes, rotties, Pekes, and other breeds that sell for lots of money at pet stores.
They end up in shelters for all the same reasons that mixed breeds do, and they compete with their mixed breed cousins for good homes. They also compete for time and care from shelter workers who care equally about all the dogs, but usually don’t have complete knowledge of all breeds. Cockers may be snippy, huskies are escape artists, Jack Russells are high energy, basenjis are destructive, shelties nip ankles. Each breed has specific idiosyncrasies that could make them less than ideal for the average family.
There are people who have favorite breeds. Some show or breed dogs and some just love their chosen breed. But breed rescue groups go a step further and take their favorite breed out of shelters. They rehabilitate these purebred shelter dogs, providing socializing, medical care if needed, and some training and behavior testing. The rescuers make sure the dogs are spayed or neutered, well groomed, and up to date on inoculations. And they screen potential adopters to ensure a good match.
Why let these rescuers have first choice at these purebred dogs? Actually, by working with rescuers, shelters are helping both pure and mixed breed dogs and the people who want to make them family members. Rescuers have the knowledge and the time to make sure their adoptions are a good match, and they don’t have to worry about all the other dogs who also need homes. By removing them from the shelter environment, the dogs are less stressed and better able to adjust to their new homes. And when purebreds are out of the shelter, mixed breeds have a better chance of being noticed by shelter visitors who want to adopt a companion for their family.
Some people wonder why they have to pay for a rescued dog, purebred or mixed. Rescuers spend lots of time and go to a great deal of expense to ensure that each dog is healthy and ready to go to a new home. Medical costs often reach hundreds of dollars, not to mention the normal costs of housing and feeding each animal. Some of the rescues never find new homes, but remain with their rescuers for life. The adoption fee amounts to only a small fraction of the actual expenses involved in placing these animals.
If you think you want a purebred, call the shelter and get the number of a rescue group. They will help you make sure it’s the right breed for you, and help you find a suitable dog to buy or adopt. If you have a computer, visit http://petfinder.com and do a search for the breed you want. You’ll be able to see dogs (or other animals) in shelters and rescues in your area and across the country.