Miami Herald

Five questions to ask before deciding if you’re ready to adopt a shelter dog

- BY DOUGLAS HANKS dhanks@miamiheral­

If you think your home is ready to adopt a dog or cat, what’s the next step?

Here are five question to answer:

1. Have you tried fostering a dog or cat first?

Municipal kennels usually are eager to have people take in cats and dogs even if it’s not on a permanent basis. Serving as a foster home for a dog or cat can also be a good training run for adopting a pet full-time.

2. Are you planning to move?

Housing is the No. 1 reason owners surrendere­d their dogs, according to data collected between 2018 and 2020 by 24Petwatch, a microchip company. As the rental market tightened in 2021 and 2022, shelter managers reported tenants finding it harder to secure homes where the owner allowed pets. So even if your current living situation allows for a dog, consider whether you might be apartment hunting in the future. And it wouldn’t hurt to confirm a landlord’s existing pet-friendly policy will continue. “It’s not just: Are you going to move?” said Flora Beal, public affairs manager for Miami-Dade County’s Animal Services Department. “It’s also: Have you checked with your landlord first?”

Some rescue groups are dedicated solely to senior dogs, a label that the American Animal Hospital Associatio­n applies for dogs and cats that have passed through 75% of their expected lifespan. Advocates for older dogs point out they’re likely to be fairly mellow and predictabl­e in temperamen­t, compared to younger ones. Especially if the other option is a dog closer to the puppy stage. Still, an older dog likely means a faster arrival of health issues that often come with advanced age.

Owning a dog isn’t cheap, but neither are restaurant­s, vacations and many hobbies. So file pet ownership under life enrichment but with the responsibi­lity that comes with caring for a new household member. A 2022 survey by Rover, which runs an online listing for dog walkers, found dog owners reported recurring canine expenses of $40 to $290 a month. The widest range within that budget: dog food, from $18 monthly for kibble to nearly $200 for refrigerat­ed gourmet offerings. Note: The list of core dog expenses doesn’t including boarding for trips away from home, which runs $35 to $60 a day for top listings in the Miami area.

Most municipal shelters have active volunteer programs, where people are trained to help walk and socialize dogs living there. It can be a good way to get to know various dogs up for adoption, too, while helping brighten day-to-day conditions for animals even if one doesn’t come home with you.

3. Would an older dog be the best fit? 4. Are you happy to add pet expenses to your budget? 5. Have you spent some time at a shelter first? HOW TO HELP WITH STRAY PETS IN MIAMI-DADE To adopt a pet: =ser1599251­22910773

To foster a pet: =ser1599345­590627984 or

To volunteer: =ser1598391­77136735 or VolunteerA­

To donate: global/animals/

To report animal cruelty:

Please call 311

Douglas Hanks: 305-376-3605, @doug_hanks

 ?? D.A. VARELA dvarela@miamiheral­ ?? An American Bulldog mix was found as a stray and was available for adoption.
D.A. VARELA dvarela@miamiheral­ An American Bulldog mix was found as a stray and was available for adoption.

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