Downeast Dog News
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Adopt-a-Dog Month®: Give Shelter & Rescue Animals a Second Chance

By Susan Spisak | Oct 01, 2018

In 1981, the American Humane Society established October as Adopt-a-Dog Month® to encourage people to adopt from a shelter or rescue to not only save animal lives but to boost their lives as well (we dog-lovers know the value a pet adds). There’s good reason they promote the adoption of shelter and rescue animals--they estimate that each year roughly 3-4 million animals are in shelters waiting for a home. The sad fact is that many never find a home and are tragically euthanized.

Enter Maine rescues and non-profits who have a good handle on rehoming their own animal population and reach out to overcrowded partner shelters in other states and across the globe--when they have room, they step up, take dogs in, and offer them that second chance…because that’s the business they’re in.

Case in point is the heartwarming story of Victor, a beautiful “Jindo” mixed breed who was one of five dogs who came to the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland (ARLGP) in May of 2016. The five were part of a massive rescue of 250 dogs from the horrific dog meat trade in South Korea by the Humane Society International (HSI) as ARLGP is an emergency placement partner of the Humane Society of the United States. (ARLGP notes that while they’re dedicated to helping animals rescued from inhumane conditions, their top priority is to homeless and displaced pets in Greater Portland and Maine.)

The path each of the 5 dogs took was quite different. It took Victor almost a year before being moved to ARLGP’s adoption floor. He, like the other four rescues, didn’t know how to walk because he'd had been kept in a tiny crate and needed training, enrichment, and socialization to understand his new surroundings and environment.

His personality charmed the staff and Jeana Roth, Director of Community Engagement at ARLGP, said he developed quite the fan club from visitors who frequented ARLGP just to say “hi” to him. Among those were Kim Getchell and her partner Brad Currie of Standish--they’d read his story on ARLGP’s website and were drawn to him. They’d lost a dog last year and wanted another pet to chum with their miniature Border Collie, Chloe. “I just fell in love with him,” said Kim on meeting Victor.

Since Victor was cautious of people, the couple decided they’d do everything to make him comfortable with them. They stopped by ARLGP daily to interact with the Jindo. Kim also brought the meat-motivated dog homemade dehydrated chicken. One day, she popped a piece in her mouth and offered it to him and to their surprise he accepted it.

The couple believed he sensed their feelings--he began shadowing Kim around the play yard and allowed them to sit in his run and pet him. Kim knew that while they wanted to adopt him because they loved him, “I think honestly he picked us.” The clincher was that he liked Chloe--they brought her in a few times for a meet and greet.

He went home with them early this year and while he’s going on 4, he’s still learning dog basics (the little alpha fluffball, Chloe, is helping on that front). And Victor, also nicknamed Bubba, is experiencing joy daily. When Kim and Brad come home from work--she’s in commercial banking and he works for the Small Business Administration—they romp around the fenced-in-yard playing “monster”--chasing the dogs (much to both canine’s delight), chanting, “We’re going to get you.”

Victor has also had a ball this summer--Kim and Brad take their fur kids along when they travel or have fun day trips. Victor loves boating with his new family on Lake Sebago and Long Lake. He’s also been camping to Campobello Island in Canada, where he warmed up to humans on the beaches and leaned in for human pats.

They did have a frightening experience recently when their pest control rep left the fence gate open and Victor toured the neighborhood for an hour. The couple searched for him and upon arriving home, their boy was sitting on the front porch. “I guess he likes us,” said Kim with a laugh. “He knows his home.”

Kim and Brad are happy to be offering Victor a better life. He’s continuing to open up to them, and even though it’s been a slow process, Kim knows it’s worth it for her “majestic” Victor--as it is for all rescue or shelter animals. “Every being deserves a second chance. I think pets, or animals, don’t have a voice. To me, it’s better to rescue a dog. They need love just as much as anything and I think sometimes you build a better bond with a rescue pet.”

Follow Victor’s adventures on his FB page at facebook.com/Victor-Bubba-Getchell-Currie-1980696651951303/.Let’s put this part in the center spread

Is Adopting A Rescue Dog Right for You?

So you think you’d like to find your own “Victor”? There are dogs in rescues and shelters who need a home, but before you rush into the process, consider a few things, especially if this is your first dog. (The worse thing is if you adopt and realize dog ownership isn’t right for you. What then? He’ll go back to that organization…a terrible, damaging cycle for any dog.)

Owning a dog is a financial commitment. Initial costs include the adoption fee, collar, leash, ID tag, bowls, a crate or bed, and training if necessary. Ongoing costs include food, monthly heartworm/flea preventatives and regular grooming, unless you can do it yourself. And don’t forget vetting--annual check-ups, vaccinations, and medical emergencies. There’s state licensing--if your pet has been altered, the Maine fee is $6 per year. (Shelters and rescues provide initial vaccines and spay or neutering before adoption.)

To give you a rough idea of totals, according to an article on Vetstreet.com, basic annual expenses can exceed $1,500 for dogs (vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/what-it-really-costs-to-own-a-pet). Average veterinary care accounts for several hundred dollars of this, but you can find discount vaccination clinics across the state--some offer free wellness checks. And many vets will sell flea/tick and heartworm preventatives on a monthly basis.

Ok, so you’re certain you have the time, energy, and extra dollars for a dog. When you find an organization or a specific dog that piques your interest, set aside a time to either visit the facility and/or fill out an application. Detail your residence and outdoor area, job or retirement situation, immediate family and other live-ins, and any other companion animals you have. All these factors guide the adoption team in finding the best match for you.

Even though you’ve outlined what you’re looking for on your application, be flexible. Don’t fall in love with a dog by its breed or picture on the Internet. An in-person meeting may change perceptions. You may be a burly macho guy determined to adopt that black Lab you’ve seen online, but you may change your mind once you click with that heart-stealing tiny white fluff ball.

Be choosy when looking for a furry companion. By honestly evaluating your personality, family and lifestyle, you’ll not only find the right dog that perfectly blends in and brings you happiness but gives him that second chance at a wonderful, safe life in a loving home.