In The Environment
Being the wise dog researcher that you are, you’re naturally eager to learn the physical signs trustworthy dog rescue centers. We applaud your commitment; however, we have a bit of bad news. Hardly anyone ever has access to the inside of dog rescue shelters aside from their employees.
Where ever you are allowed, look for a clean environment and access clean water and food. You may not see an ‘ideal’ environment — that is, one that’s comparable to a pristine kennel or private adoption center. But that doesn’t mean you should see a filthy facility that neglects the animals it’s supposed to care for either. You have to remember that many shelters are overcrowded, underfunded, and understaffed. So a less than perfect setting is to be expected. Outright abuse is not.
To fully judge the quality of a rescue shelter, you may have to look at the animals it protects instead.
The signs of healthy dogs are normal weights, shiny coats, clean ears and noses, and clear, bright eyes. Because dog rescue centers are in the business of saving animals and not grooming them, you should not expect to see perfectly groomed show dogs. More than likely, you’ll find dogs with a lot of potentials – dogs that with a little tender loving care could become the example of their breed (or breeds for mixed dogs).
Signs of healthy dog behaviors are displays of comfort around humans, wagging tails, dog smiles, and non-aggressiveness (even toward other animals). Avoid a dog that cowers or growls unless you’re willing to socialize it.
If we’re going, to be honest here, we have to inform you that you may find a few injured or sick canines in dog rescue shelters – a situation that’s quite normal. This is why your first stop after leaving an animal shelter should be at the nearest vet. A sheltered dog could very well be dehydrated, undernourished, or under the attack of internal parasites. These are minor problems that can be fixed with a small veterinarian fee. In rare cases, you may find a dog that has a serious illness that may or may not be treatable. If you have a concern about a particular dog, see if you can have it checked by a vet before making a decision to adopt.