Adopting an animal that needs a home is a noble thing to do. To understand the simple fact that there are so many homeless dogs, cats, and other pet-worthy animals out there and want to help out is a great thing.
But sometimes it’s hard to know where to start and how to find the right animal. And before we even get to that point, I have to point out something that I hope is obvious but will upset a lot of people: Adopting an animal is not going to be right for everyone.
This article may sound like I’m against rescuing, but I’m not. We’ve adopted a couple of different animals and it’s a great experience that is both enriching for you, the human, as well as life-saving for the animal. We still have a rescue animal that lives with us who is likely entering his final stages of life at 15 years of age.
My goal is to help you understand what this commitment means for you and the dog and to prevent you from doing something that you may want out of later on, which just isn’t fair to the animal you’ve given hope to.
Before we get to all of that other stuff, let’s give a brief answer to the following question …
How Do I Rescue A German Shepherd?
The easiest way to rescue a German Shepherd is to find one of the many German Shepherd rescue organizations out there. There are national agencies and those that are more local, and any are probably a good place to start. Another excellent place to look are kill shelters, since those dogs are usually on the short list to be put down unless they’re taken into a home or one of the rescue agencies. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and find a German Shepherd on the short list, and other times you’ll end up falling in love with a different dog, altogether.
Is Rescuing a German Shepherd Right For You —
I’m sure a lot of the die hard rescue-only people have a hard time with this question and that’s okay because we all have different opinions on things. But the truth is that rescuing an animal isn’t right for everyone and there is absolutely nothing wrong with understanding where you stand on that.
The reason why is because a rescue animal is going to have a different set of circumstances and needs then a dog you have from puppyhood will.
One of the worst things you could do to that animal is bring him home only to decide that you don’t like the baggage he comes to you with and bring him back to the shelter.
If you can’t work through some of these potential issues you’re about to read, then find a different dog.
German Shepherd Rescue Positives —
There are numerous benefits to rescuing a German Shepherd dog for both you and your new best friend. And really, that’s the first one — you’ve got a new best friend who is likely to love you no matter what, until he passes.
The name of this blog is Protective Pooch, and I chose that name for a couple of different reasons. The main reason being that German Shepherd dogs are, I believe, pound for pound the best family protectors out there. Put outside of your mind right now that a rescue dog won’t be loyal to a new person or family because my boy Jumbo (a rescue dog you’ll read more about in a moment) was very loyal to us and I have no doubt that if he needed to, that he would have fought to the death for us.
Thankfully it never came to that. But he had no problem showing his loyalty to everyone, not in the form of aggression toward people, but he definitely had more to say to other dogs.
And of course, these are just great companion dogs that tend to have above average intelligence. Because they are so smart, they tend to be easy to train and well-behaved once they get to a certain age. The puppies are crazy and a tad hyper. But the adults are an absolute pleasure to be around.
More often than not, rescue animals have had hard lives that haven’t always involved a lot of love from people. So, at first, he may be leery of you and a bit untrusting. But if you can rescue a dog and love it, it will appreciate you and want nothing but to please you and give you its own love.
German Shepherd Rescue Problems —
To say that it’s all peaches and cream would be a lie. I’ve rescued a German Shepherd Dog and while I loved him and wouldn’t change my time with my boy, Jumbo, for any other animal, he was a mess.
A hot mess.
Before I move on let me tell you that my boy was the exception to the rule. Most dogs are usually fine. However, there is always the chance that you could get an animal that needs a lot of attention, medically, and if you’re not prepared for that it could be a mess for you, like it was for me.
More often than not you won’t know what the dog’s history is. This creates problems because you don’t know what kind of illness he has, if he’s allergic to certain kinds of food, if he’s got a serious case of separation anxiety, if he wants to eat everything furry that he sees, etc.
All of the above, are things that my boy Jumbo struggled with.
His health was a mess, likely because he had been on the streets for so long. We did the best we could for him, but he had so many problems. His skin problems were tolerable, but he was allergic to everything and if the smallest piece of people food fell to the floor and he got it before I could pick it up he’d get all itchy and break out.
We had brought him to a veterinary dermatologist in New Jersey who then took pictures of his skin conditions to publish in her book.
He also had ear issues. His ears would not stand up like they were supposed to which, oddly enough, was why nobody else would adopt him.
His anxiety is what really made us think twice about rescuing another GSD after we actually stopped to think about it. He destroyed so much furniture I can’t even begin to tell you about it all. One time after I left for work in the morning I looked into the basement where we had to keep him while we were gone to prevent him from hurting himself or anything else, only to see him hanging by the ceiling rafter by his teeth as he played tug of war with the house.
It was at that point when I started to bring him to work with me during the day. He calmed down a lot just as long as he could see me. But, make no mistake, he was nuts.
Finally, he had serious aggression towards other animals. We brought him over a friend’s house once because, you know, he couldn’t be left alone and he was foaming at the mouth with spit flying all over as he tried his hardest to go fight another dog.
But again, he was loving and I wouldn’t have traded him for anything. I gave him the best life I could for the years we had him and I’d do it all over again. Why? Because he was, no joking, my best friend.
Hold on, I got something in my eye … both of them, actually.
German Shepherd Rescue and Kids —
After our boy Jumbo passed away more than 10 years ago, we made serious attempts at rescuing another GSD. We tried really hard but none of the agencies would let us adopt because we had two little kids. They were afraid of liability if the dog bit one of the kids.
I get it. After looking back at the mental issues Jumbo had, there’s no way I’d go into that again with children involved so we stopped trying to get a rescue.
Right now my youngest is 8 years old and I wouldn’t chance a rescue after having one with so many issues. After the kids are grown up it’ll be a different story.
But if you have little kids or are planning to, it may be a good time to wait and see. Thankfully Jumbo adored my rugrats.
German Shepherd Puppy Rescue —
Is it possible to rescue a German Shepherd puppy? Absolutely, but be prepared to wait because there is likely a long line of people ahead of you.
The puppies are extremely popular for adoption for a few different reasons. First, they usually have a clean bill of health because they’re usually too young to have any medical problems develop. This isn’t always true, but generally is.
They also don’t have any mental problems like separation anxiety or issues with kids.
And, while the puppy you rescue may be cheaper than the puppy you get from a breeder, you’ll still probably pay more for a rescue puppy than you will an adult dog just because puppies are easier to adopt and they can charge more.
Other Options for German Shepherd Ownership —
I don’t want us to sound like we’re one of those groups who believe that rescuing is the only way a person should ever acquire a dog. That’s not us. I believe that you should be free to make whatever decisions you want to make concerning your own life.
To be honest, those people irritate me as they sit on their pedestal and judge me for not owning a rescue dog, when I’ve rescued in the past and still have a cat we rescued who poops everywhere but his litter box.
Only you know if rescuing a GSD is right for you, and only you can answer that question. Don’t let anyone else make you feel bad for doing one thing or the other.
Rescuing a German Shepherd is a great thing for some people and is certainly an option. But it’s not for everyone. Nor is it the only option to get your GSD.
At the end of the day, for me at least, it’s all about the dogs. The German Shepherd breed of dog is my favorite and I’ll own nothing else. If the dog comes from a breeder, so be it. If it comes from a rescue shelter, that’s totally fine, too.
All I want is a protective pooch.
German Shepherd Rescue Organizations —
These organizations are excellent resources for finding dogs for adoption. As far as I can tell, just about every mainline breed has at least one organization dedicated to it (I can’t say that as a fact because I’m sure there are some that don’t).
These organizations are also great because, usually at great cost to them, their main goal in life is to save the lives of innocent dogs. This means that they travel to the kill shelters and adopt (more like temporarily fosters) the dogs that their organization represents until they can find a more permanent home for that animal.
They usually only require small fees to adopt from them because their most important goal is to save otherwise healthy animals. If at all possible, rescuing from one of these organizations or directly from a kill shelter is an excellent idea.
Next Steps For Rescuing a German Shepherd —
If you’ve made it this far and still want to rescue a German Shepherd, I commend you. It is an excellent choice. While it may have seemed like I was just trying to talk you out of this decision, that’s not true. I just want you to have a full understanding of what you’re asking when you say, how do I adopt a German Shepherd Dog?
The next step is to locate a few of the shelters and rescue agencies in your area. They’ll all have similar steps to adopt a dog, but will also have some small differences. For example, one may say that you can’t have any children under 8 years of age, while another may say that you can’t have children under 5.
You’ll have some paperwork to fill out so they can make sure they’ve done their homework on you, and they may require a few references. Of course there is a small fee as well, and you’ll be required to get the dog any needed medical treatment.
For example, when we rescued Jumbo, we had to sign something stating that we’d neuter him because he wasn’t yet done. Same thing when we rescued our cat.
Good luck in the search for your new friend.