If you’ve been following your local animal shelters in the news and social media, you’re likely aware that most are jam-packed with large breed dogs. Shelters nationwide are dealing with a perfect storm of circumstances that has caused a flood of owner surrenders and an uptick in probable abandonment cases. As loathe as we are to belabor the chorus of the many ways COVID-19 has disrupted society, the impact on pet owners and animal shelter services cannot be overlooked. Landlord and homeowner association disputes, socioeconomic issues, and the ending of pandemic era protections and relief all bear primary responsibility for the current shelter overpopulation. However, while the intake and adoption rates of cats and small breed dogs has remained relatively steady, big dogs are suffering an untenable rate of intakes, with very few adopters coming to their rescue. Sadly, many big dogs are becoming long-term residents of shelters that are often so overcrowded that two or even three big dogs share a single kennel.
While the animal welfare community cannot control the circumstances that led to this emergency, we can educate potential pet
owners—we can reinforce the importance of planning ahead for pet adoption and explain the myths vs. reality of big dog ownership. With the efforts of the animal welfare community combined with the open hearts and minds of potential pet owners, maybe someday these wonderful dogs will no longer be surrendered to shelters or overlooked by adopters simply because of their breed or size.
Plan Ahead For Your New Best Friend
There are a few things that any potential adopter should consider before adopting any animal:
Check your lease or homeowners’ association (HOA) rules and regulations: Many property management companies and HOAs restrict dogs based on breeds and size. While efforts to prohibit this type of discrimination have gained traction in recent years, these restrictions still exist in many areas and should be taken seriously.
Know the costs involved: You’ll want to have a realistic plan in place for how you intend to pay for the things a dog will need throughout its life, including food, supplies and medical care.
Be realistic about your lifestyle: Dogs need lots of interaction with their humans for exercise, play, and cuddles. If you’re a road warrior at work or do a lot of traveling, make sure you have a plan for how a dog will still get this crucial socialization.
Big Dogs Mean Big Fun!
Many people are of the perception that they are not candidates to adopt a big dog for one reason or another. Often, we find that these perceptions are not necessarily aligned with the reality of big dog ownership. You may be surprised to learn that what you may have heard about big dogs isn’t necessarily true!
Many big dogs don’t need as much exercise as you may think: With the exception of puppies, who need lots of exercise no matter their breed, many adult big dogs don’t need as much exercise as people think. In fact, as long as you provide a long daily walk, many big dogs are happy to spend the rest of their day indoors doing mentally stimulating activities like chewing and playing with toys. In fact, we have seen many big dogs thrive even in small apartments as long as they are getting the appropriate amount of outdoor exercise.
Big dogs tend to do well with children: When socialized and trained properly, big dogs are patient and gentle when interacting with children. Big dogs understand their size and strength and can tolerate the roughhousing children sometimes initiate while controlling their play style as to not injure their human children friends.
Big dogs are primed for training: Many large breed dogs were bred to be easily trainable. If you can start training early in life, many big dog owners find training a big dog to be a much less intense job than training a small dog.
Simply put, big dogs are a blast: Big dogs want to do any and every activity with you! These dogs are perfect companions for hiking, camping, bike rides and more. You’ll never be lost for things to do with a big dog, because they’re so versatile.
Ready To Adopt?
If a big dog would suit your lifestyle and you’re ready to adopt one of your own, now is the time! Visit a local shelter or rescue and find your perfect match. Many organizations are currently offering incentives to adopt in an effort to alleviate the overcrowding they face. Please consider giving one of these gentle giants the loving home they so deserve.