Celebrate your adopted shelter dog's birthday today, which is designated as an official birthday for all shelter dogs.
Everyone has a birthday, but if you have a shelter dog, you might only be able to get an estimate of age.
In 2008, North Shore Animal League America, the world's largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption center located in Port Washington, New York, gave all shelter dogs a birthday.
"After rescuing animals for so many years that had no known birthday, in 2008 North Shore Animal League America declared August 1st would be known as DOGust 1st, the official birthday for all rescued puppies and dogs to celebrate their importance in our lives," said Joanne Yohannan, senior vice president of operations at North Shore Animal League America.
To help all those shelter dogs out there in need of finding a home, The Journal talked to local veterinarians to get tips for someone considering adoption.
Dr. Sarah Zeigler is a veterinarian at Corry ANNA Wellness Center, 13199 Route 6, a branch of ANNA Shelter in Erie. She advises to research breeds when considering adopting a shelter dog.
"Make sure that the breed of dog you're looking at is going to fit your lifestyle, because if you have a very active lifestyle, you're not going to want a dog that's a couch potato and vice versa," Zeigler said.
Some things to consider when researching breeds are how hyper the breed is, how much grooming it needs, and if a breed tends to need a lot of time and attention, Zeigler said.
"Be prepared to wait two or three weeks after bringing them home for them to really settle in and to see their true personalities," Zeigler said. "Give them some time to get used to [the family]."
This idea is echoed by Dr. Theresa Konzel, veterinarian at Corry Companion Animal Hospital, 15 E. Columbus Ave, who said it could take as long as three months for a dog to settle in, depending on the situation, which also means any behavioral issues might not be noticed until after the dog is settled.
"Any health related medical conditions, generally, we can find right away," Konzel said.
Konzel said it is a good idea to bring in an adopted shelter dog within 10 days.
"The shelter discloses any health issues, or anything like that, ahead of time," Konzel said.
If there are any health problems that weren't disclosed, a visit with a veterinarian gives the doctor a chance to find them quickly, Konzel said.
"I don't think it's ever too early to get that new pet in to be seen — just to establish a relationship between the pet, the owner and the vet — so if something does happen, they have an idea of what this dog is like and what this dog might need in the future," Zeigler said.
Then if something does happen in the future, a baseline is established to look back on, making it easier to recognize changes, Zeigler said.
"Other than that, make sure when you get home you provide quality food and care, flea and tick prevention, and deworming," Zeigler said. "Pet insurance is always a great idea, because you never know when emergencies are going to happen."
Ziegler also said that adoptive parents won't know what happened to the dog before adoption and, just like people have different personalities, so do dogs.
"Just give them time to come out. Not every dog is going to fit with every family," Zeigler said. "Take the time, visit with the dogs and get to know them before you say, 'Oh my God, he's so cute,' and take them home."