Never Judge an Animal By its Fur

The importance of choosing personality over beauty when adopting dogs and cats
By: Kaitlin Calk

As if it wasn’t obvious from the blazing sun and the typical South Texas heat, summer is upon us! Many people take advantage of this season by going on vacation, spending the day at the beach or even just relaxing on the couch with a good book.

The summer months also see a rise in pet adoptions. While it is fantastic that people choose to spend their time off from work or school to adopt a homeless dog or cat, it is extremely important to adopt an animal whose energy and personality suits your lifestyle. It is easy to walk into an animal shelter and choose an animal that is “pretty,” but when an adoption is based solely on what the animal looks like, that animal is often returned. This is not only stressful for the people involved, but very traumatic for the animal.

Raising an animal is a 10- to 15-year commitment, and the decision to adopt requires plenty of consideration. Before even setting foot in an animal shelter, it is a good idea to have a serious conversation with the family about what everyone is looking for in a furry companion. The same goes for someone who lives alone.

If your family loves to spend weekends outdoors being active, an equally active dog will make those outings much more fun. If you prefer to spend your days indoors on the couch, adopting a couch potato of a dog or a cat that loves to cuddle would be a great decision.

If you have small children or if small children frequently visit your home, it is important to adopt an animal that gets along well with children. If you do not have children, but plan to within the next 10 to 15 years, it is still important to take home an animal that will adjust well to this big change. Remember, this is a huge commitment. You need to consider every aspect of your life before you open your home and heart to a dog or cat.

When you have decided what kind of personality you are looking for in an animal, it is time to visit an animal shelter. This can be overwhelming because you do not know the personalities of the animals. Animal shelters are generally very loud places, as well, and this alone can cause someone to leave a shelter without a dog.

It is important to remember not to judge dogs based on the behavior they display in the kennel. A dog that is barking and jumping around behind those bars may actually be a very quiet, calm dog when he or she is in a different environment. The same goes for cats: A cat that comes across as scared or shy in the cage may be a completely different cat in a home setting.

This is when it is important to use the most valuable tool you have for adopting an animal: the shelter workers. These employees and volunteers handle the animals on a daily basis, so they often know the animals’ personalities very well.

When you have narrowed down your choices to just a few dogs or cats, ask an employee if you can interact with them outside of their cages. Taking a dog for a walk or spending time with a cat in a quiet room will give you a much better idea of what their energy level and personality is like. And if you have children or even other pets, it is a good idea to take them along to meet this potential new family member so that everyone can be in agreement.

When an animal is adopted simply because he or she is aesthetically pleasing and then returned a short time later because he or she “just isn’t the right fit,” no one has been done any favors. When adopting an animal, just remember that your new best friend may not have a glossy white coat and bright blue eyes. If you take the time to choose an animal based on personality, he or she will make your life more beautiful than you could have imagined.

Located at 3118 Cabaniss Parkway in Corpus Christi, Texas, the Gulf Coast Humane Society houses more than 400 animals. If you would like to find your perfect match, simply ask for a matchmaker next time you visit! For more information, call 361-225-0845.

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