Don't Shop, Adopt-Local

By Nikki Sue Alston | 2/10/2015

I Have 3 dogs, each with their own, very different, personalities. They are the love of my life, and I sploil them rotten, as if they were my children. I wouldn't have it any other way. I received one free as a puppy; the other two I adopted as adult dogs. With the non-stop entertainment, midnight romps, and the welcoming committee at my door; my house is a zoo. But they keep my life interesting. Many people searching for dogs seek out pure breed, or 'designer dogs': Morkies (Maltese-Yorkies), Labradoodles (Lab-Poodles), Labradorasourus (Lab-Tyrannosaur)*, etc. While these can make great pets, there are many other animals - of varying ages and breeds - looking for homes right here in Lake Charles. I encourage everyone looking for a new pet to adopt from one of our local shelters or rescue groups.

Below is a list of my top 7 reasons to adopt locally:

1.     Most Dogs Are Surrendered for Lack of Time and Resources, Not Behavioral Problems. 

Pet ownership requires time, money, and effort. You should realistically determine the amount of resources you can allocate for a potential animal before adopting. Animals are like small children; they need all the basics: food, water, and shelter, but they also need attention. Just like a child, animals starved of attention may seek it by acting out. And, if not addressed properly, this pattern can lead to pro-longed behavioral problems. To them, negative attention is better than no attention at all, but negative attention reinforces negative behavior. Ensure you are capable of providing your pets with the attention they need before you bring a new animal into your home. The more time you spend with your new animal, the better.  

2.     Choosing a Shelter Animal Means You Are Not Supporting Illegitimate Breeders.

Many individuals who sell animals on craigslist or Facebook attempt to sell as many litters as possible. Producing unnecessary litters puts unnecessary mental and physical stress on the mothers. In addition, taking young animals away from their mothers too soon can lead to health and emotional problems down the road. Unless they’re officially recognized, American Kennel Club (AKC) breeders, the living conditions and health of the animals cannot be guaranteed. When searching for my first dog, I went to several places that bred dachshunds. Some of the dogs were living in deplorable conditions. Many of the pups were ill and malnourished; my heart hurt for them. I’m not saying all Internet-advertised breeders are negligent, but by adopting locally, we can decrease demand for puppy mills and inhumane animal-breeders. 

3.     Saves time and money. 

My first dog, Wilson, I received from a family whose dachshunds accidently had puppies. The cost of his vaccinations/neutering were 4X as expensive as the two dogs I subsequently adopted. When you adopt from a shelter or rescue group, medical issues are identified, and for the most part, corrected while the animal under the shelter’s care… barring heartworms*. Many of the dogs come crate and potty trained, which can save a lot of headaches during house-breaking.

Deworming, vaccinations, and neuter/spay are also included in the adoption or rehoming fee. If not, you can receive a voucher to have a local veterinarian perform the procedures within the foreseeable future. Some shelters or adoption programs will even microchip the animals for the same price as an Exposure Magazine subscription! These services can rack up a hefty bill if you’ve purchased a pet from private parties. For folks like me - living on a budget - every penny counts! 

4.     You can see a transformation after they find their ‘furever’ home.

You won’t always know an adopted animal’s history; they could have lived through any number of traumas. When I brought home my schnauzer-mix, Walter, he was skittish and insecure from the abuse he received as a puppy. The first night in his new home, he laid next to me putting his paw on my chest like he was hugging me, but it was apparent that he was still a bit uneasy. If I so much as looked at him - as if he were in trouble - or motioned too fast whilst petting him; his bladder would release and he would roll onto his back in surrender. It took 2 months of love, and hard work to earn his trust. Today, he is the goofiest, fun loving-est, happiest dog I have ever met. 

5.     You save a life. 

According to the ASPCA, 2.7 million cats and dogs are euthanized every year.  The Deridder Animal Control has to put animals down every Tuesday because of capacity limitations. There are many rescue groups in the Lake Charles area such as: 4 PAWS Society, Hobo Hotel for Cats, and LaPaw Rescue, but animals are abandoned and surrendered daily. Animals have a limited shelf-life at shelters, by adopting, you can make a difference.

6.     There is never a dull moment when you have a dog!

Walter is my little goofball. My abs hurt from laughing at him... daily. We have a stocked pond in our front yard that I can no longer fish in because he has realized that the line brings in a flopping, slimy lake-creature. He will grab the line with his teeth and take off running to bring it in faster. Now it’s more of a game (because I don’t use a hook anymore) than fishing. When I cast out across the pond, I watch him chase the line around - wherever it lands - barking and slapping the water.

Wilson, my weenie dog, is a little con artist; too smart for his own good. He is beloved by all my family and friends. Though he may be small, he is the fastest, sassiest, most smart ass-iest weenie dog around. He honestly doesn’t realize how small he is. In his eyes, he believes he is a giant, and will - without hesitation - chase off bigger dogs, lions, tigers, even bears, if they come too close to his side of the pond. He is a tiny, fearless warrior. Wilson has an incredibly expressive face; it’s like you can actually see the wheels turning in his head… plotting. If he believes he has been wrongfully punished (which is often), he poops in the house in an inconspicuous place; right next to the bed (so you step on it when you wake up), under the table, behind the couch, etc. He will also pretend his back leg is broken if he feels too lazy to jump onto the bed, or doesn’t feel like coming inside when you call. There is never a lack of entertainment in my house. 

7.     You receive love in many different forms.

Not only do you get cold nose kisses and warm snuggles from your companions, but you may get unexpected surprises (more positive than the poop by the bed thing). The other morning - after letting the boys back inside from their morning run - I laid back on my bed to snuggle with Walter for a few more minutes before getting ready for work. There, on my pillow, perfectly placed in the center, was a dead bird. Walter watched excitedly from the other side of the bed. I know when animals bring you something dead it’s supposed to be a gift, but this was not what I wanted first thing in the morning.  Especially not in my bed… on my pillow... where my face goes. Instead of scolding him, I just patted his head and said, “Thank you, but I don’t really want this.” As I picked up the deceased bird by its tail feathers to throw away, he moped to his kennel the rest of the morning. He knew I wasn't really thankful. 

Things to consider before adopting or purchasing any animal:

Do you have enough time for the animal?

Be prepared to sacrifice your time... lots of it. If you work long hours during the week, you may need to stay home during the weekend to spend time with your animal.

Can you afford the animal’s monthly and yearly expenses?

Always be prepared to pay for food, supplies, yearly vet checkups or shots, and unexpected medical bills. Animals get sick just like humans and they may need specialized medicines or procedures which can be costly.

Can you have a pet where you live now and if you move, are you willing to find a place allowing your animal(s)?

If you are renting, some landlords will not allow pets; or will allow them, but with a pet deposit. Some pet deposits can be nonrefundable and some lessors only allow animals under a certain weight, or only one (1) per household. If you get a puppy, remember that it will turn into a Gremlin if you feed it after midnight. Puppies are cute but they don’t stay that small for long!

Are you and/or your family ready for the commitment?

Dogs and cats can live 15 years or more while other animals, like some species of birds and turtles, can live 75 years and up! You may need to make arrangements for your animal’s care if you take a vacation or go out of town. Another thing to consider is if something were to happen to you, where would the animal go? Planning for the unexpected is something all potential pet owners should consider. Think of pets like children... only, they aren't ashamed of living with their parents as adults.

Which animal is right for you?

Make sure to do research about a potential breed or type of animal so you can have a better idea of their needs. Some dog breeds are super high energy, and, if left in an apartment alone - without ample exercise time - they can become destructive. Other breeds are less demanding. is a great website for those looking for information on breeds, such as temperaments and common health problems. They also offer a Dog Breed Selector Quiz to help narrow down which would suite your lifestyle best. However, I know you will not need breed information; you're adopting a mutt, 'cause you're a superhero. 

* One of the dogs we adopted was heartworm positive, but with diligent administering of his medicine, he was heartworm free a year later!

For anyone ready to adopt, you can visit:

4 PAWS SocietyHobo Hotel for CatsLaPawDeridder Animal Control, or Pet Finder

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