Monday, June 25, 2018

The Importance of Pet Foster Parents

At Sophie’s Circle, our pet foster parents are the real heroes. Our organization does not have a facility to keep the animals while we look for their forever home. Instead, local pet foster parents welcome the pet into their home for a short period of time, allowing us to take the time to find the best match for them. Pet fosters are desperately needed. Here you’ll learn about the importance of fostering and how you can help our mission.

The Role of Sophie’s Circle

Sophie’s Circle has a big mission. Our goal is to rescue animals and help them find a forever home. Local shelters work at limited capacity, and they euthanize pets that don’t get adopted. This is done even though most of the animals don’t have incurable diseases or untreatable behavior issues. At Sophie’s Circle, we work hard to give every pet the second chance they deserve.

Our pet rescue organization works hard to match every pet to the right owner. The goal is to find a forever home for each pet, which is why we take our time to get to know our foster parents and adopters. We act as a go-between and use our network and reach to place the animals in their forever homes. We also operate a pet food bank that relies on the generous support of our donors.

How to Become a Pet Foster Parent

We’re excited about anyone who considers becoming a pet foster parent. As a foster parent, you may be asked to keep a dog for one night or several weeks, depending on how soon a family can be found to adopt the pet. It’s easy to become a pet foster parent – just fill out an application and email to us.

The application is very thorough and requests a lot of information about your household. To place a foster pet in your home, it’s important that we get to know your family and pets. Every dog is different, and some dogs may not thrive with young children or in households with other pets. It’s up to us to ensure that the foster pet is a good fit for your unique situation.

Additionally, you’ll be asked what type of animal you’re looking to foster. Some animals may need to be house trained, and others may have medical issues that need attention. If you need assistance in taking the foster pet to the vet or to any of the scheduled events where she can meet potential adopters, our staff is happy to help.

Why Pet Foster Parents Are Needed

Our organization relies on foster parents to successfully find new homes for our dogs. We do not have a facility to board the dogs that are in need of new homes. Instead, every animal will be placed in a foster home that is compatible with the dog. The foster pet parent will keep the animal until a home can be found for them. A foster may stay as short as one night or as long as an entire month.

Our foster parents play an extremely important role. While local shelters can take in animals, they often euthanize pets before a home can be found for them. By fostering the pets, they are given a second chance allowing us to treat their medical condition, rehabilitate them, and find a new owner for the pet.

In most cases, the animals have done nothing wrong. Their owner may have passed away, moved, or divorced. Now the dogs deserve another chance to have human companionship and a family that cares for them.

How You Can Help

There are many ways to help our organization rescue more animals. If you’re in a place where you’re ready for pet ownership, you can browse our current listings to find a dog to adopt in Volusia County. You can conveniently fill out an application for adoption online.

To keep our operations running, we always rely on pet foster parents. While we’d love for you to adopt an animal, your willingness to be a pet foster parent is also very much appreciated. You can fill out a pet foster application here.

Lastly, our organization relies on donations to keep going. We are a registered nonprofit 501(c)3 corporation. We’re able to rescue and rehabilitate countless dogs in need with the support of foster pet parents and donors. As the only pet food bank in Volusia County, Florida, we accept pet food and monetary donations on an ongoing basis. Our contribution will be appreciated.

Monday, June 11, 2018

How to Help Your Dog Get Along with Other Animals

In general, dogs are friendly and easy to get along with, especially when they’re around their favorite humans. However, unless you live in the middle of nowhere, your dog is bound to run into other animals from time to time. Here you’ll learn how to help your dog get along with other animals, whether they are dogs you meet on your daily walks or other pets in your household.

Other Dogs

Taking your dog for a walk is good for both of you. You’re getting some exercise and fresh air at the same time. However, for some dog owners outings are difficult because of other dogs in the area. In many cases, two dogs that meet on the sidewalk will be good-natured, expressing curiosity and interest but not aggression. However, if your dog tends to act aggressively towards other dogs, you’ll want to address this before it becomes a problem.

The first step in the process is to teach your dog basic obedience. Once your dog understands and follows commands like sit, down, and stay, it’s easier to control their behavior when other dogs are present. You can take an obedience class in your local area or hire a dog trainer to work one-on-one with your dog. Either way, you must practice the commands regularly to ensure that they’ll work when you need them most.

Strategies to Use

If another dog approaches, you can ask your dog to lie down and stay that way. In many cases, this will keep your dog from acting aggressively as long as the other dog doesn’t come too close. The down position sends a signal to the other dog that discourages aggressiveness, which is why it can be very effective.

Another tactic that can be very successful is simple avoidance. If your dog is known to be aggressive with certain other dogs in the neighborhood, you can simply switch to the other side of the street when another dog approaches. You can use this method in combination with obedience, but it will work in a pinch when you’re pressed for time.

Lastly, it’s important to socialize your dog with other dogs. You can do this by visiting dog parks or having your dog spend one-on-one time with other dogs in your neighborhood. You may even strike up interesting conversation with other dog owners in the process and make new friends for both of you.

If your dog does get into a fight with another dog, the best thing you can do is stay calm. You can break up the fight by pulling the leading dog up (not back) away from the other dog. It’s important to stay calm after the fight. The dogs will quickly forget about it, and there’s still a chance for them to get along just fine. In fact, even dogs that live together can occasionally get into a fight over food or as a result of misreading the other dog’s signals.

Small Animals

It’s possible for dogs to get along with small animals, like rabbits and guinea pigs. However, not every dog can learn to abandon their natural instinct and leave small animals alone. If your dog likes to run after squirrels or other small critters, you may be best advised to keep them away from small pets. 

To introduce your dog to a small pet, you must proceed in steps. The first step is to bring the small animal home and keep them in a room separate from the dog. In the beginning, your dog will spend a lot of time sniffing at door. After the dog loses interest in the new smells, it’s time to introduce them to the small pet by letting them go into the room, keeping them on a leash and the small animal safe in the cage. 

The goal is for the dog to lose interest in the small animal. You may only be able to keep the dog in the same room for a few minutes at first, rewarding him with treats if they stay calm. Eventually, your dog may learn to ignore the animal. It’s important to keep your pets’ safety in mind throughout the process. Your small animal should be secured in the cage where the dog can’t get to them and have access to food, water, and shelter.

If your dog can't seem to get along with your small animals, you have some options. If you can ensure that the small animal is safe from the dog, it's possible to keep both in the house. However, it's important to keep both safe before you leave the house each day and supervise all interactions between them. 

Friday, May 25, 2018

5 Reasons to Find Your New Pet at a Local Rescue Organization

If you’re looking for a pet, the best place to go is your local rescue organization. Shelters have to find home for a large number of pets, and they can help you find the perfect companion for you. Which dog is right for you will be different, depending on your family and living arrangements. Fortunately, there are other great reasons to go to a shelter instead of contacting a breeder, which you’ll learn about here.

Save a Life

It’s not really a pleasant thought, but have you ever considered what happens to unwanted cats and dogs in your area? When pet owners get tired of caring for their animals or have to give them up for other reasons, they get a second chance at your local shelter to find a permanent home. Unfortunately, some of them don’t – for different reasons. As a result, some of them have to be euthanized, especially when the shelters are full. There are many no-kill shelters in your area, and their staff works diligently to find new homes for all their pets. By contacting the rescue organization first, you can save the life of a pet, for which they will be forever grateful.

Choose from Different Breeds

Many people prefer certain breeds over others. They may go to great lengths to get a certain type of dog for different reasons. It could be sentimental. Maybe their childhood dog was a Labrador Retriever, and they want to have a dog just like they had when they were little. It’s also possible that they did their research and determined that a certain breed would work best for their family.

Your local shelter has many different dogs to choose from, including a large variety of breeds. You can find purebreds, but you can also find a lot of mutts. In fact, there may be some good reasons to choose a mixed breed, because they’re often healthier than highly bred dogs. Even if the dog of your dreams isn’t currently available, your rescue organization can keep an eye out for the kind of animal you’re looking for.

Pay Less

When you purchase a puppy from a breeder, you can spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars – depending on the dog’s pedigree. Shelter dogs are not nearly as expensive. Generally, you have to pay an adoption fee, which covers the cost of spaying and neutering. Additionally, you have an idea of what you’re getting. Shelters won’t hide information from you, because they want to ensure the dog goes to a permanent home. On the other hand, some breeders may not be as honest, or the dog’s flaws may simply not be apparent when they’re a puppy.

Medical Care

Pet shelters are well-run organizations. They perform health checkups on all their animals, and they ensure the dogs are up to date on their vaccinations. If the pet needs extensive medical care, the organization will often make sure these procedures are performed before they offer the animal up for adoption. Shelters also work together with a local veterinarian, and you can continue seeing the same doctor and receive continuance of care. 

Less Work

Getting a puppy can be a lot of fun for your family, but it’s also a lot of work. Having a young dog is not unlike having a baby or toddler in your home. Puppies get into everything, chew on valuables, and can generally be rather destructive. It takes a lot of time, dedication, and work to train your puppy properly. It starts off with training the dog to do their business outside all the way to teaching them to stay in their kennel or sit on command.

When you adopt a grown dog, it’s quite possible that they were already trained by their previous owner. The shelter organization can give you more information on what the dog has learned how to do. You can also take some time to get to know the dog before you adopt them by spending time with them outside and going for a walk with them.

There are lots of great reasons to adopt a dog from your local shelter instead of finding a breeder. These dogs are all looking for a loving forever home where they can feel safe. Rescued dogs can show a devotion to their owners that isn’t often found elsewhere. If you’re ready for a new pet, get in touch with us, and we’ll help you find the dog that’s right for you and your family.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Why Dogs End Up at a Shelter

Many people are reluctant to adopt a dog from a shelter, because they think there's something wrong with the pet. However, there are many reasons why dogs become homeless that have nothing to do with the animal itself. For example, their owners may have moved, died, lost their job, got divorced, or not had the time or ability to properly care for their pet. Many people also end up with unplanned litters and simply cannot take care of all these pets.

Major Life Changes

Everyone goes through several major life changes. Some of them may necessitate letting go of a pet. For example, if a dog owner gets married to someone who is allergic to dogs, it could mean having to get rid of the pet. That’s not an easy decision to make, but there’s often nothing else that can be done.

A move or change in financial situation can also lead a pet owner to find a new home for their dog. For example, many families were deeply affected by the financial crisis in 2010. As a result, many had to downsize their homes. If you’re moving from a big home with a yard to a small apartment where big dogs are not allowed, you would be forced to give up your pet.

Of course, economic reasons could force someone to give up a pet even if they don’t have to move. If they’re unable to pay for medical care for their pet or purchase pet food due to a layoff or downsizing, the humane thing would be to find a new home for your dog. Financial hardship can happen to anyone outside of an economic crisis, as there are many reasons that could lead up to that, including divorce, medical bills, or a job loss.

Limited Time

People have pets because they want to spend time with them. A dog is a great companion, but you must have time to feed them, pet them, and take them for a walk. It’s quite possible for someone to have new time restrictions that don’t allow them to take care of their pet any longer. Maybe they’ve had an addition to their human family, such as a new baby or caring for an aging parent. They could have been promoted at work and are now required to put in more hours. Some people also have to get a second job to make ends meet, which leaves less time for family and pets.

It’s okay if you don’t have time to play with your pet every day as long as it’s temporary. However, if you anticipate not being able to hang out with your dog for the foreseeable future, finding a new home could be a better option. Generally, having a baby doesn’t exclude you from having pets, although the dog may feel neglected in the beginning. Eventually, you’ll get into a routine and take the dog for a walk while pushing the stroller. 

Inability to Care for Your Pet

It’s not always time or money that’s lacking. In some cases, the owner is no longer physically capable of caring for their pet. While this may be more likely to happen with an aging dog owner, it’s a possibility at any time. Whether the owner was injured in an accident, has a disease, or is slowing down with age, it may be necessary to find someone else to help with the duties of caring for the pet.

It’s important to understand that the companionship of a pet is incredibly valuable to any individual, even if they’re no longer able to care for it. If it’s possible to get help from family, friends, and neighbors in caring for the pet, it may be worth a try. An aging individual may feel lonely without their dog, especially if they’ve had the pet for many years. But if the owner has to move to a new home, such as a nursing home, the dog may also need a new home.

A Second Chance for the Dog

As you can see, in many cases it’s not the dog’s fault for needing a new home. Rather, it’s the circumstances of the owner that lead them to find a new home for the dog. It’s also possible that the dog you’re trying to adopt was part of an unplanned litter. In any case, it’s a good idea to check with your shelter when you’re looking for a loyal four-legged companion, because all of them are waiting for their second chance at happiness.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

How to Help Your New Dog Get Along with Other Dogs and Cats

When you bring home your dog from the shelter, there are lots of new things to learn about. The dog may feel overwhelmed at first because they have to get used to a new home, new people, and occasionally other pets. It’s important to take your time in introducing your dog to other pets in your home. If you go about it the right way, there’s a good chance you’ll have a big, happy, furry family as a result.

Introducing Your Dog to Your Cat(s)

In most cases, cats and dogs can live together peacefully. It’s important to understand that some dogs are very aggressive towards cats and may never be able to live with a cat. However, most of the time the shelter staff already knows when that’s the case and won’t let you adopt a dog like that if you have cats.

Certain rules must be followed when putting cats and dogs together. Your cat needs to have a safe space where the dog can’t get to it. The litter box, cat food, and water dish must also be out of reach for your dog. Dogs don’t have any qualms about eating your cat’s food, and they may even ambush a cat in the litter box. Keeping these things away from the dog in a private place ensures that your cat won’t relieve itself elsewhere or doesn’t get enough to eat.

When you first introduce your new dog to your cat, the dog should be on a leash. At first, you just want the dog and cat to be in the same room with each other. Pet them, talk to them, praise them, and give them treats. If your cat is skittish, you may want to keep her in a carrier. You want your dog to stay calm around the cat without bolting towards them. Use commands like “sit” and “leave it” to make sure the dog leaves the cat alone.

If your dog stays calm for several days, you’re ready for the next phase. This is where you can let go of the leash, but you still must be prepared to grab it. At this point, your dog may approach the cat. You can expect the cat to swat the dog on the nose, and that’s often all it takes for the dog to leave the cat alone. If your cat is still a kitten, has been declawed, or is otherwise unable to defend itself, you may need to exercise more caution when you make the introductions.

Meeting Other Dogs in the House

Introducing your dog to other dogs in the house is an important step you need to take. Some dogs are really easy-going and like almost every other dog, but you probably don’t know that ahead of time. There are different ways to introduce dogs to each other, but one of the methods is the exchange of smells. 

For example, you can use old shirts you no longer use and let you established dog sleep with it. Then you’ll take it to the shelter and let the new dog sleep with that same shirt. You can do the same thing in reverse for the established dog to help both get used to the other dog’s scent. Before they meet, you can exchange the shirts and have the dogs wear them. The same thing can be accomplished by using a pheromone spray. The goal is to help them familiarize themselves with the smell and make them like each other before they even meet.

When you introduce the dogs, it’s a good idea to do this on neutral territory. The best way for two dogs to meet is to go on a walk with each other. In the beginning, you want to go single-file and have one dog follow the other with adequate distance. Eventually, if they show signs of wanting to play together, you can take a walk next to each other. 

It’s a good idea to keep your dogs separate while you’re away until their relationship has become established. Incidentally, putting your dogs in separate rooms or crates will also reduce the likelihood of them making a mess of the house while you’re gone. It may be necessary to keep the dogs apart for the first day and only have them meet for 20 minutes at a time. During that time, the new dog may need to stay confined to one room of the house.