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The Adoption Option
By Heather Brown

When considering adding an animal companion to your family, a wealth of organizations, books, videos and individuals are available to assist you in discovering why adoption is the best option. The cold, hard facts are that an estimated 4 to 6 million companion animals are euthanized in this country each year for lack of homes. This staggering statistic alone makes a great case for the adoption option, but there are so many more.

Extraordinary advancements have been made in the field of animal behavior, employing animal adoption agencies and rescue organizations with great tools in matching animals to family structures where both will flourish. Gone are the days of choosing an animal based on its look and whether or not they match the furniture. Temperament evaluations give us a composite look at the animals personality, and in turn, the family best suited to foster a relationship that will last a lifetime.

Misconceptions regarding particular animal personalities and temperament abound in our culture. For example, families with young children often believe that either a very young puppy or a small breed of dog will work best for them, and those people that work with dogs for a living have experienced the exact opposite.

Puppies bite and nip instinctively as they grow and come equipped with needle sharp teeth. Tiny human hands and feet are natural targets as a puppy learns how to use its mouth. Chase behavior is also instinctive, and scared or excited children will run, enticing a puppy into a game of tag with those same sharp teeth. Young children require much more attention and demands on their parents' time than older children and the same can be said for puppies vs. adult dogs. Puppies need to go out to relieve themselves at least 6 times per day at regular intervals. Your midnight diaper changes and feedings may be over, why add a bleary eyed stroll through the backyard in your pajamas to your plate?

While there are no definitive statistics, veterinarians, groomers, shelter workers and animal control officers will all agree that a small-breed dog has a higher propensity to bite; and when they do, they typically bite children. Small dogs tend to be more nervous than larger dogs and when feeling threatened, only have their teeth as a defense. Small dog does not equal small personality or energy level. Typically, large dogs require much less exercise than small dogs.

Shelters, adoption agencies, and rescue organizations are full of wonderful companions just waiting for a family to call their own. The notion that these homeless pets are without a family because they are damaged goods is ludicrous. Pets are turned out, cast-off, surrendered and abandoned most often because a human made a mistake and did not take the commitment of owning an animal seriously.