Wednesday, July 26, 2017

5 Things to Consider before Adopting a Dog

Adopting a pet is a huge decision. You should never take it lightly, because the life of an animal is at stake. And while it’s possible to find a new home for the dog, that’s not in the animal’s best interest. In fact, the worst thing that could happen to a dog is to have to go back to the shelter for one reason or another. That’s why you should carefully consider these 5 things before adopting a new animal.

1. How Much Time Do You Have?
It’s a good idea to realistically evaluate how much time you have to spend with the dog. If you work 10-hour days and have a 90-minute commute, then your dog is left alone for most of the day. And the few hours that you spend at home, you’ll be asleep. That’s probably not a good situation, unless other family members are willing to help you take care of the dog.
Some dogs are more active than others. If you get a particularly active breed, then you must be prepared to get outside with the dog. Otherwise, you’ll see behavior problems. An older dog may require less time for training and active play, but they still need to be taken for walks and played with, too.

2. Can You Afford the Dog?
It’s important to think about the financial obligations that come with owning a dog. The easiest cost to estimate is the cost of food. But there are other, more expensive items you will have to pay for. These include shots, veterinary care, flea medication, and doggie toys. You may also need to pay for dog training courses if you need help with training your pet.

3. Who Is Your Backup?
Do you know someone who can watch your dog while you leave town? If you only go on vacation once a year, then that’s usually not a problem. If all else fails, you can always find dog boarding (provided you think about it in advance). But if you travel out of town frequently, then you need to have someone reliable who can watch your dog. Ideally, this is another member of your family or someone who lives close by.
If you really want to have a dog even though you leave town a lot, it’s important to work out these details in advance. You’re essentially asking your friend to share the responsibilities of pet ownership, and they need to be okay with that. Otherwise, fostering a dog might be the better option.

4. Are Your Kids and Other Pets Ready?
Generally, kids and dogs do fine together. But not every child is dog lover, and not every dog likes children. It’s important to consider the age of your kids and the history of the pet before adopting a dog to become a member of your family. At the very least, your children should meet the dog before you bring him home.
If you already have other pets, you might also need to tread carefully. Most cats and dogs get along fine, but there are some cats that don’t like dogs, and then there are some dogs that just don’t get along with cats. In most cases, it has something to do with their personal history. And while these things can sometimes be resolved with expert help, it won’t be easy. Therefore, the best solution is to ensure the compatibility of your existing pets with the new pet before making the decision to adopt.

5. Who Is the Primary Caretaker?
Before you bring a dog home from your pet rescue organization, it’s important to clarify who will be the primary caretaker. Ideally, the entire family will chip in and play with the dog and take it for a walk. But you don’t want the dog to be the cause of arguments down the road. Therefore, you should agree with your significant other ahead of time who’s turn it will be to walk the dog in the rain.

Careful Planning Is Necessary
There are many benefits to adopting a dog and few drawbacks. The challenge is to consider every one of these points carefully before looking for the perfect pet. Once those sad brown eyes are looking at you, you’ll throw caution out the window. But if you can’t make this work, then the one who suffers the most is the dog. In summary, adopting a pet is a wonderful choice as long as you have covered all the vital questions beforehand.

6 Ways to Become Active in a Pet Rescue Organization

With the countless numbers of cats and dogs who end up at the shelter, it’s understandable that you want to help. Most people only think of adopting a pet when they’re looking for a new furry family member, but you can help rescue organizations on a regular basis in other ways. To give you some ideas on how you can make a difference, we came up with 6 ways you can become an active supporter of your local pet rescue.

1. Walk the Dogs and Play with Them
Shelters and rescue organizations often have a lot of dogs in need of care. The regular staff might just barely have time to feed the animals and clean the kennels. They’re always looking for volunteers. And the best part is that you get to help with the fun stuff. You can volunteer to walk the dogs and play with them. You might even be able to bring your children to help.

The same is true for cats and kittens. All the animals need human contact and social interaction daily. You can imagine how difficult that is with the large number of animals that end up in shelters. Kind, loving attention from humans can even go a long way in socializing an animal that may otherwise not be a good candidate for adoption.

2. Share Information with Your Friends
Rescue organizations rely on many people to spread the word. If you don’t have time to walk or play with animals regularly, you can still make a difference by sharing information about adoptable pets with your friends and family members. You can do this by following them on social media and sharing their posts in your feed. And if someone talks to you about wanting to find a new pet, you can direct them to your local pet rescue.

3. Host a Fundraiser or Community Event
Pet rescue organizations are always looking for donations, volunteers, pet foster parents, and people to adopt their animals. All these goals can be met by hosting a fundraiser or community event. If your community is already hosting a public event, you can ask to represent your local rescue organization at a booth. If they already have an appearance scheduled, they’ll be happy to have additional volunteers.

Another thing that helps your pet rescue is spreading the word about the event. Tell your friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, and anyone else you know about the rescue organization and the great work it’s doing. Be specific and tell them how they can support, for example, by attending the event or visiting the booth.

4. Foster a Pet
It can be easier and less time-consuming to foster a pet than to adopt one. Fostering a pet is the act of temporary housing and taking care of a pet while the rescue organization looks for a new pet owner. This process can take several weeks. During that time, you get the chance to play with the pet without necessarily committing to keeping him for the rest of his life.

Fostering a pet can be a good solution for a family who isn’t ready to adopt a pet, people who move around a lot, or people who are out of town for certain times of the year. The great thing about fostering a pet is that you get paid in kisses. And while parting with the pet can be bittersweet, it’s nice to be responsible for a happy ending and a saved life. And if all else fails and you fall in love with this pet, then you usually have the option of adopting it yourself.

5. Adopt a Pet
Adopting a pet is a great way to help a rescue organization. There are plenty of animals in need of new homes, most of them are ready to be loving companions who just need to be given a chance. Rescue organizations tend to know their pets well, so you’ll know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. They’ll make sure that the pet is the right fit for you, because the one thing they want to avoid at all costs is having to rehome that same animal again.

6. Donate
You can make a difference by donating financially to your local rescue. The money is always useful to pay for food, veterinary care, and staff. If there are funds left, they can be used for marketing to help more pet owners find their new best friend.

Monday, June 12, 2017

How to Help a New Pet Adjust to Home

Congratulations on deciding to adopt a pet. It’s a big step for you and your family and for your new pet, too. However, not every new pet owner understands that the first few days can be very stressful for the new animal. To make the transition easier on your new best friend, it’s a good idea to keep a few things in mind.

Provide Privacy and Quiet Space
Whether you’re adopting a cat or a dog, it’s going to take some time for him or her to get used to the new surroundings. Animals crave familiarity as much as humans do. And everything in your place just smells different than what they’re used to. It’s actually quite common for new pets to find a safe place to hide and only come out for food and water (or not even that for the first day or two).

You can make things easier for your pet by offering some privacy and peace and quiet. Cats are best kept to one room at first, where they have access to a clean litterbox and food and water. You don’t even need to take them out of the cat carrier. Instead, just open the door so they can decide when they feel that it’s safe to venture out.

Big dogs obviously won’t fit in a carrier, but you can still make them feel comfortable by giving them a safe corner to hide in. Leaving a cuddly blanket or a doggy bed in an area of the house that doesn’t get a lot of foot traffic is perfect.

Minimize Anxiety
Leaving the shelter, riding in a car, and meeting new people at their new home can be really overwhelming for your new pet. Ideally, you should minimize his anxiety by keeping travel to a minimum. That means you need to pick up dog or cat food before you pick up your pet at the shelter, so that you can go straight home from there.
It’s also best if you can keep visitors away for a while. You’ll also need to tell your children to give the animal some time to get used to the home before they overwhelm it with love. Of course you can introduce them, but you should try to keep the kids calm to avoid scaring your new pet.

Be Patient
Depending on the age and general disposition of your pet, it can take some time for him or her to get used to your home and its inhabitants. Kittens and puppies are often more adventurous and will thaw out quicker. An older pet may be more cautious and take longer to feel comfortable. Fortunately, all kinds of pets will eventually adjust as long as you’re patient with them. All animals are inherently curious, and you won’t have to wait long until your pet starts exploring your entire home and making it his own.

Be Loving

Even if your pet hides in the corner of your house all day long, he or she still needs love and attention from you. Make sure to spend lots of time with your pet, such as petting him and talking to him quietly. He’ll learn that you’re not a threat and begin to trust you. Now is not the time to start dog training or discipline the animal if it did something wrong. Of course you can redirect his attention to a different toy if it chewed up your shoe, but it’s more important to build trust than to expect obedience at this point.

Stick to Routines
Dogs and cats like routines. Your animal was probably used to being fed at specific times of the day at the shelter. Dogs may also have their outside time scheduled. If at all possible, you should try to keep the schedule the same for a little while. If you don’t like those times, you can always change them later (by gradually adjusting the time about 30 minutes each day). If you can’t follow the shelter’s schedule because of work or other commitments, then you’ll just have to do the best you can.

Getting a new pet is exciting, so it can be kind of disappointing when your new pet is just hiding at first. But when you follow these tips and let your new pet set the pace, it won’t take long until you have made a new best friend for life.

5 Perks of Being a Foster Pet Parent

Have you ever thought about fostering a cat or a dog? Fostering an animal is a great way to help your local shelters and rescue organizations. It turns out that there are a lot of benefits for foster pet parents, too. After all, you get paid in cuddles and kisses. Here we have listed 5 additional perks of becoming a foster pet parent.

You’re Saving a Life
Fostering an animal will make you feel good, because you’re essentially saving a life. Foster pet parents provide space for animals in need of a home when the shelters are overflowing. While there are quite a few no-kill shelters and rescue organizations, many public shelters still euthanize animals if they can’t find a home for them quickly enough.

Even when the pet is staying with you at your home, it still belongs to the shelter or rescue organization. That means it can be adopted by a new family even though it’s not physically present at the shelter. Your job is to keep it safe and loved until the animal finds its new forever home. This could happen within days, but it could also take a few weeks or even months.

Your Other Pets and Kids Will Love It
Admittedly, some pets just don’t like other animals. But most cats and dogs don’t mind company. Having another pet in your home could make all the difference for your existing pet(s). Finally, there’s someone to play with!

Your kids will love it, too. Kids love helping others, including animals. When you foster a pet, it teaches your children a wonderful lesson in caring. They can even help you take care of the animal. Even young kids will enjoy cuddling with or playing with a dog or cat, because they can be fun companions. You just have to make sure to supervise animals and kids together to prevent potential problems or injuries.

Fostering Is Flexible 

Fostering pets is flexible. It’s actually a great option for people who really want a pet, but are unable to make the full commitment. For example, if your family takes frequent trips out of the area or gets caught up in other obligations that prevent you from adopting a pet yourself, fostering can be a good option.

Fostering an animal will help you understand the time commitment involved with having a pet. It’s quite possible that you end up figuring out a way to keep a pet permanently after all. And if not, you can foster pets when you have the time, but you don’t have to accept any new foster pets if your schedule just doesn’t allow it.

Your Costs Are Covered 

The biggest expenses related to having animals are medical bills. There are a lot of older cats and dogs and animals with certain health conditions that require medications and regular visits to the vet. When you foster one of these animals, you don’t have to worry about these medical bills. Generally, the shelter or rescue group will pay for the veterinary costs. In some cases, they’ll even reimburse the foster pet parent for other costs of fostering.

Happy Endings Make It Worth It
It can be sad to say goodbye to an animal who has lived with you for several weeks or even months. On the bright side, saying goodbye to one of your foster pets usually means that there’s a happy ending for the animal. It has finally found its forever home, where it will be loved and cared for. Of course, you’re going to miss the animal, but you can rest assured that it will be in good hands.

In some cases, you might find it too difficult to give an animal away. Fortunately, you always have the option to adopt the pet before someone else does. These animals are lovingly called “foster failures”. If the thought of this pet being adopted by someone else is too abhorrent, then you should take it as a sign and consider adopting it yourself. However, if you do that too many times, you may not have any additional capacities for fostering in the future.

Our rescue organization relies exclusively on foster homes, because we do not have a facility to keep the animals. If you’re interested in fostering an animal, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. You can fill out a foster application here or send an email to to get more information.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Virtues of Volunteering

Sophie’s Circle was started by Kathy Blackman in honor of her own adopted shelter dog, Sophie. Kathy’s mission was to rescue other homeless dogs and help find them the same kind of loving home she gave her furry friend. The organization is a combination dog rescue and pet pantry (and the only pet pantry in Volusia County) and since it’s a non-profit organization, community help is of the utmost importance. This includes volunteers.

Volunteers typically help out in a variety of ways, including animal adoptions, socialization, feeding, bathing, and grooming animals, and walking animals. Playtime is a must, and a definite perk of pup life! Not sure if the volunteer life is right for you? Here are some reasons to give volunteering a shot. We wouldn’t be where we are if it weren’t for our amazing volunteers!

It Only Takes One Person!

You may think you can’t do much to make a difference, but that’s far from the truth. It only takes one volunteer to make a huge difference in an animal’s life, and the rewards for you are truly great. Knowing you are helping save animals’ lives gives a weight to volunteering and makes it ultimately even more satisfying. Make a difference in the shelter, in your community, and in the lives of many animals.

Spend Time Wisely

Too much time on your hands and nothing to do? Turn that time into something constructive, and fun. Volunteering gives you the chance to not only make a difference, but to get involved in something unique and incredible. Time with animals is never wasted time, and they will be immensely grateful for your service! Learn valuable things about pet care that may take you into an altogether different career direction. Get to know the ways that your own strengths can help animals and turn a ‘job’ into a PLEASURE!

Get Paid in Kisses!

Volunteering may not be the most glamorous, high-paying job in the world. Or, even a job that pays at all (remember, you’re donating your time to a non-profit organization!) However, it is the most rewarding. Not to mention, there are few things better than a puppy lick on the nose or a head butt from a cat telling you he loves you for all that you do.

The Common Good

Do you find it hard to find friends who understand your love of canine critters or furry felines? You’ll meet other volunteers and shelter staff who completely get you, and you may find working alongside others for the common good creates a lasting bond.

Helping animals is an awesome feeling. It can also boost your mood, lower your blood pressure, and keep you feeling healthy, happy, and productive. Running with dogs and playing outside keeps you active, which is great for your health. There are many emotional benefits to volunteering, but there are plenty of physical benefits, too, making it the perfect way to spend your free time.

Where Do I Start?

Ready to volunteer? Head to our website and fill out the Contact Us form. Or, find us on Facebook and let us know you’d love to help. If you don’t have time to volunteer but you still want to help our shelter, there are many ways to do that. We love getting food donations to keep our pet pantry fully stocked, and we also need fosters who can temporarily house dogs and cats until they find forever homes. We need help with animal transport at times, too. There are so many ways to make a difference, even if you’re just donating funds or a few hours a week. Lastly, you may wish to adopt your very own best friend, creating a space for another homeless pet to have a new lease (or leash!) on life!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

10 Reasons to Adopt an Animal

Owning an animal (or, letting an animal own you) is one of the most rewarding experiences we can ever have. There’s a bond between owner and pet that doesn’t exist between people. It’s completely and totally unconditional, and there’s nothing like it. If you’ve been on the fence about adopting a cat or dog, here are some reasons that may push you to find the perfect companion for you. The joy of adopting an animal is endless, and bringing a cat or dog into your family is a great way to teach kids compassion for animals, too. Your family just isn’t complete without a furry friend!

  1. Unconditional love!Animals don’t care if you had a bad day, got sick, or simply feel cranky. They are thrilled to see you every time that door swings open, and they are ready to love you with their every being. Being loved like that feels amazing, and it’s the best feeling in the world knowing that no matter how your life goes, you always have a loyal friend who cares for you throughout every struggle.
  2. Coming home!

    Every time you leave and come back, your dog treats you like a VIP celebrity walking down a red carpet. He or she is SO HAPPY to see you, it’s like you’ve been gone for days! You are so important to them! You can’t help but smile and laugh when you get that reaction from your pet every day.
  3. Save a life!

    One of the most compelling reasons to adopt an animal is simple. There are over two million animals euthanized each year, solely because of lack of space in shelters. Make room for another pet by adopting a pet from a shelter, and know that you saved a precious life from a senseless, unnecessary death! He or she will spend the rest of their lives thanking you for your kindness.
  4. Having an animal keeps you active.

    Playtime is fun! Take your dog for a walk or to play Frisbee in the park. Grab some cat toys on strings and watch your cat freak out trying to grab them. Interacting with your animals gets you off the couch and keeps you healthy and happy.
  5. It’s been proven that pet owners have lower blood pressure.

    Petting a cat or dog instantly calms and soothes you, creating less anxiety and stress. We all live in a fast-paced, stressful world, and it’s easy to get caught up in stress. Calmly stroking a pet’s fur, kissing a pet, and cuddling with a pet creates positive emotions and feelings that stick with you and lift your spirits. Pets are the best antidepressants!
  6. Life gets lonely for all of us sometimes.

    Pets provide constant companionship, and most pet owners refer to their animals as their ‘best friends.’ Having an animal to keep you company throughout the day, sleep with you at night, wake up to, and spend the days with provides a strong bond that may be hard to come across in the real world. Pets don’t talk back, yell at us, get mad, or go without speaking to us (well, if you don’t refill the food bowl on time, you may hear about that!) so you always have a built-in best friend nearby.
  7. Adopt, don’t shop.

    Instead of heading to a pet store, head to an animal shelter instead. Adopting an animal from a shelter not only saves a precious life, but is usually cheaper than shopping for a pet. The all-inclusive adoption fee generally covers shots and/or spay and neuter. It’s easy, hassle-free, and won’t cost a fortune to adopt a shelter pet. The rewards are immeasurable!
  8. Avoid supporting puppy mills.

    If you choose to adopt a new friend from a puppy mill, a shelter dog loses his chance at a new life. Puppy mills are dangerous, unsafe breeding grounds where dogs are treated poorly just so breeders can make a profit. Sometimes, these dogs end up in pet shops, so avoid them and head to the nearest shelter instead.
  9. You don’t have to do the legwork.

    In most cases, shelter dogs and cats have already been housebroken or litterbox trained, so your pet is ready for play as soon as you head home. Shelter animals are socialized by volunteers, so you don’t have to worry about dealing with the basics when you bring home a pet from the shelter. It’s normal for a pet to be afraid at first, but once she gets used to you, she’ll be thrilled to be going home!
  10. Emotional benefits.

    Opening your home to a dog, cat, or both, can open your heart, too. It may touch you in a way you hadn’t expected. It’s also a good way to meet people if you’re shy, especially fellow pet-owners when you’re at the dog park or out on the sidewalk. Pets are an amazing conversation starter!
Adopting an animal is a commitment for life, so it should be considered carefully. That being said, once you bring your new companion into your home, you won’t regret it! There are immeasurable opportunities for adoption in Volusia County, and plenty of animals in need of a loving, forever home. If you have questions about adopting an animal, we have answers! Contact us at Sophie’s Circle and we’ll help you through the process.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

5 Ways to Help Your Local Animal Shelter or Rescue

If you love animals, you likely want to help your local shelters and rescues. There are several shelters and rescues in Volusia County you can help and there are plenty of ways to do so. While connecting with the shelter and asking what they need is always a good place to start, you can use these 5 guidelines to help local shelters and rescues save animals.

Donate Food – Most shelters are always in need of pet food, but places like Sophie's Circle actively run pet food drives to help animals stay out of the shelter. By providing food to needy families and seniors who cannot provide food for their pets, we keep animals safe at home with the families who love them. This kind of donation is affordable, often tax deductible and allows you to pitch in whenever you have enough money for a space bag of dog or cat food. Most shelters actively accept pet food donations, but you can call in to ask if they need them before making the purchase.

Volunteer Your Time – Many shelters and rescues operate on a volunteer or semi-volunteer basis, which means that most people working there are doing so for free. If you have extra time, one of the best things you could offer could be your time. This is especially important if you have skills like social media, photography, dog grooming, animal care, or are just good at cleaning. There are hundreds of tasks surrounding animal rescue including feeding, caring for, cleaning up after and grooming animals, but also handling social media, promoting and marketing animals to ensure that they are adopted, handling questions, paperwork and even taxes. If you think you can help, call your local shelter or rescue and ask.

Donate – Whether you have money, old blankets and clothes, dog food, or anything else, your local shelter or rescue may be able to use it. While a cash donation is the most versatile donation you can make, you don't have to have money to contribute. In most cases, old blankets are perfect for keeping dogs and cats warm in shelters, old dog crates and leashes can be used for transportation, etc.. Some shelters maintain a list of items they accept as donations, but you can also call in or contact their Facebook page to ask.

Ask What They Need – Some shelters will need specific items and you can help a great deal by calling in to ask. For example, if a shelter has recently rescued puppies, they might need formula for the pups, if it's cold, they might need blankets and if they're running low on food, they might literally need a food donation. You can always ask how you can help to make the most of every donation.

Educate Others – If you can adopt, it's always better to adopt and get an animal out of the shelter.

However, you can also work to educate friends and family, get them to adopt when necessary and share animals on shelter pages to help them find homes. By actively participating on shelter pages, you can greatly improve their reach and make sure that more people see every animal on the page. You can also help by ensuring that friends and family are educated on the difficulties of raising animals, that they know the responsibility of getting a pet and ensuring that no one you know blindly jumps into getting a pet, which will then end up in the shelter.

If you have more time and resources than most, you can consider volunteering to foster animals. This can be a great way to offer a lot of help to local rescues, who often need temporary homes for animals to socialize them and to keep them out of crates and kennels. However, most shelters will want to establish a relationship with you and this will include considerable screening to ensure that you can care for special needs animals on a regular basis.

If you want to help, there are dozens of ways to do so and these 5 are just a place to start. Thank you for caring.