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Make a Difference in Overcrowded Shelters

Shelters across the United States are overcrowded and in crisis mode. There are more pets than there is room to house them, food to feed them, and care to give them. Unfortunately, rescues and shelters cannot manage the number of homeless pets without our help and support. Today, we're discussing ways to make a difference in overcrowded shelters by being responsible pet parents, making good pet-related choices, and supporting programs that control pet populations.

Make Pet Adoption Your First Option

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The more pets that are bred by breeders, the less of a chance the pets in the shelter have of finding a home. In a perfect world, breeding would be limited to working breeds and service dogs but that is not the case. For this reason, we urge you to make pet adoption your first option.

Yorktown, Poquoson, Newport News, and Hampton area rescues and shelters are literally packed with dogs of all ages and sizes, cats of all colors and temperaments.

Before you pay an exorbitant price for a purebred pet from a breeder, keep in mind that a large number of pets in the shelter system are purebreds that were given up for varying reasons, usually a mismatch of breed for the family or a realization that having a pet is a bigger commitment than a family can take on. Also, it's not uncommon for unethical breeders to dumb their "stock" at local shelters when they don't sell.

If you have your heart set on a purebred, find a breed-specific rescue for your desired breed and contact them for information on their rescues.

When Adopting a Pet, Make Sure It's the Right Pet

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Many of the pets entering shelters and rescues these days are owner surrenders. An owner surrender is a pet that is being surrendered by his or her owner or family for varying reasons.

Owner surrenders can be very controversial because there are those of the mind that a pet is a pet forever, no matter what, and those who believe that owner surrenders can represent a new and improved life for the pet. We are somewhere in the middle. We have seen owner surrenders go very well and yield excellent results but we recognize that giving up a pet is a traumatic experience for all involved, which is why prevention is key.

The best way to avoid being put in a position in which one may feel the need to give up their pet is to do your homework before purchasing or adopting a pet. Learn about their breed, background, breeder, needs, and overall health. Work with rescues and shelters that are thorough in their application process, interviews, and home checks. Trust their representative's advice if they don't believe a desired pet is a good match for your family. And, do your homework on any organization from which you acquire a pet - be it a breeder, shelter, or rescue. Just as there are established, reputable breeders, there are more established and experienced rescues out there.

Spay or Neuter Your Pet

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Once you've chosen the right pet for you and your family, it's imperative that you discuss with your trusted veterinarian when the best time is to spay or neuter them. Not only will spaying and neutering eliminate the potential for unwanted litters, but it will also ensure that your female cat or dog pet doesn't menstruate or go into heat, which can be quite messy. Spaying or neutering should also keep your pets - both male and female - from displaying unwanted reproductive behaviors, like running away and humping, that can endanger their lives and your furniture...

Work with Your Pet to Avoid Owner Surrender

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Bringing a pet into your family is a significant commitment. As stated above, do your homework and choose the right pet. Also, keep in mind that you will have to raise this pet to be the pet you're hoping to have. Very few pets are perfectly well-behaved and 100% healthy when they walk through the door.

Budget for your pet's initial veterinary care, which can vary depending on where you get your pet. Purebred pups from a breeder and very young rescues will need additional vaccines because of their ages. Older pets from rescues will likely come fully vetted and up-to-date on their vaccines but may bring minor ailments like UTIs, URIs, or parasites that need veterinary attention due to exposure at the shelter or foster homes.

If your pet is displaying "deal-breaker" behaviors, immediately address them by reaching out to your breeder, rescue, shelter, and pet care team - like your pet sitter - for advice. As animal lovers, our goal is always to keep pets in their homes therefore we're happy to refer you to a trainer, offer tips and tricks, if appropriate, and assist you in your search for the ideal training team.

When hiring a trainer, we recommend they be positive trainers that only use rewards to modify behavior. A great book to get you started in your training journey for dogs of any age is Raising the Worst Dog Ever: A Survival Guide by expert dog trainer, Dale Ward. What makes this book special is that it's part memoir, part dog training guide. It's a great place to start with dogs of all ages.

Find & Use Your Resources

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Many owner surrenders could be avoided if families had access to greater resources or the time to invest in their new pet's training. Many families lack the financial resources to hire a dog trainer or provide veterinary care if their pet falls seriously ill.

Thankfully, there are programs out there that can help families keep their pets if they want to. Many of these programs are donation-funded. We believe helping fund these programs is a wonderful way to support animal welfare.

If you or anyone you know is experiencing hardship that impedes your ability to keep your beloved pet, you can learn more about finding support here. Don't be afraid to ask for help!

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At Hearts at Home, we do our very best to support local and national pet organizations that work tirelessly to reduce homeless animal populations by matching them with loving families. We applaud shelter and rescue workers for their efforts and recognize that they face many challenges.

We believe our in-home pet care services are a great way to help acclimate new pets to their household, offer safe and controlled socialization with new people, and allow families to share their pet care responsibilities with a trusted professional when days are busy and when they travel.

To learn more about our in-home dog walking, pet sitting, and home care services, submit a new client questionnaire here. For more information, visit our website or contact us by email at or by phone at 757-745-9868.

Our service areas include Yorktown, Poquoson, Newport News, and Hampton, Virginia.

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