Thank you for your interest in applying for a dog through Veteran Companion Animal Services! We are currently placing dogs in Central, Ohio. To apply for a dog, first read the “General Care & Responsibilities of Owning a Dog” information below, then fill out the application. The application will ask you to check off that you read and are capable of caring for a dog.
Owning and caring for a dog can be an extremely rewarding partnership. When you provide appropriate care, exercise and attention to your canine companion it creates a bond that gives back 100 fold. However, if dogs are not given appropriate care, a variety of issues can arise. Excessive veterinary bills from an injury that could have been prevented, destruction of household items, or overall poor behavior can be devastating to this bond. If you are interested in becoming a dog’s best friend, it is important to understand that dogs rely to their human counterpart for their needs, from food and water to enriching exercise and attention.
Owning a dog comes with a great amount of responsibility. If you are considering adding a canine family member you need to think seriously about the commitment that will be required. It is a longstanding time, financial and emotional commitment. At a minimum you should expect to spend at least an hour a day caring for your dog. If your dog has a lot of energy, you will likely have to devote double this time to meet its exercise needs. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) estimates the average annual cost of a dog to be between $580 - $875, depending on the size of the dog. This does not include capital costs such as a surgery to spay or neuter, an expensive emergency veterinary bill or cost of startup products like a crate. VCAS will assist with providing information and help with proper pet care and training, but you need to be aware of what your responsibilities will be as the dog’s owner.
Some important areas to consider are listed and described below.
There are many general care needs for dogs. If multiple family members will be assisting with the care, it will be important to put together a schedule so everyone knows what responsibilities are theirs so that the dog does not get overlooked.
- Food and water - Fresh and easily accessible water must always be available. A properly formulated diet for the age, size and activity level of your dog should be provided. At minimum, food should be offered twice a day.
- Potty Breaks - At minimum, dogs should be let out or taken on a walk every 8 hours.
- Sheltering - VCAS will only place dogs in homes that intend them to become a part of the family. Having your dog live outside is not acceptable. If outside for periods of time, appropriate shelter must be provided depending on the weather conditions. Do not let your dog outside for extended periods of time in bad weather.
- Traveling – Many dogs like to travel with their owners. If your dog cannot go with you on a trip for whatever the reason, you need to make sure your dog’s needs are covered. Having a friend stay and watch your dog or having your dog at a boarding facility while you are out of town is an option.
- Exercise and enriched environment – Exercise is extremely important to the health and well being of your dog. You need to provide your dog with daily exercise that is appropriate for the dog’s level of activity. This can be done by going on walks or runs, playing fetch, going to the dog park, etc. Providing your dog with an enriching environment is also key. Dogs have been bred for thousands of years to be man’s best friend. If they don’t get attention from you they need to be able to focus their attention elsewhere. If not, they may turn their energy to disruptive behaviors. An enriching environment can be created by providing fun toys that your dog enjoys. Many toys create "puzzles" that your dog would have to figure out to get a reward (treat). There are also several "Do It Yourself" activities that can provide enrichment.
- Grooming – Keeping your dog well groomed is essential to its health. It is recommended that dogs be bathed at minimum every 3 months. Dogs also need to have their nails trimmed so that they just touch the floor (typically needs to be done every 3-4 weeks). You should brush your dog as needed. Some dogs with long coats need to be professionally groomed to keep their coats from forming painful mats. Another responsibility that commonly falls under grooming is brushing your dog’s teeth. This is recommended to be done daily.
- Dog proofing indoors and outdoors: Having a dog in your home is a lot like having a kid. Do not leave any food, plants or items around that your dog can get into, especially those that can be toxic to dogs. Make sure electrical cords are not accessible. Do not leave any important materials out that your dog can chew or otherwise destroy. Also, if you plan to let your dog out in your yard off of a leash, you need to have an appropriate fence, an electric fence or a run for your dog.
Training is incredibly important. If you want to have a pleasant dog that walks nicely on a leash, reacts positively towards other people and dogs and one that does not have accidents in the house, you need to focus your efforts on training. With a new dog, it is recommended to go to a basic training class. This often requires you and the dog to go to the training location once a week for 8-14 weeks depending on the program. VCAS requires that owners participate in our training class so that they can get their American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen Certification. Even when not in a training class, every day is an opportunity to train your dog by reinforcing good behavior with positive rewards. Training helps you and your dog understand each other.
Your dog should see a veterinarian every 6 months to a year. If your dog has a medical issue, it may require you to take your dog to the veterinarian more frequently. Your veterinarian should be your primary source for pet health information. Ask your vet if you have questions. Do not rely on information you find online from sources, as they may not be accurate.
- Vaccination – Vaccinations help protect your animal from common and deadly diseases. Your veterinarian will recommend what vaccines are essential to your pets health based on where you live and your dog’s lifestyle.
- Dental health – You should have a schedule for brushing your dog’s teeth, but just like people, dogs can require more intensive dental cleanings. Your veterinarian can provide these. They can get expensive depending on your dogs needs so be sure to budget for this when your veterinarian says it will need to be done.
- Preventive medications – Preventive medication for heartworms, fleas and ticks help protect dogs from deadly diseases and irritating pests. Some of these diseases not only affect dogs, but can also affect humans. Therefore treating your dogs can help protect your dog and the people that interact with your dog.
- End of life decisions – Sadly, the life expectancy of dogs is less than humans. It is important to know this before getting a dog. It can be a very difficult time when an animal is at the end of it’s life, but veterinarians can provide a human ending. When this time comes, your veterinarian will be very important in guiding you through what is best for you dog.
Remember, dogs have been bred with a desire to be around and interact with humans and many dog owners describe living more active, happier and fulfilled lives because of the companionship of their dogs.
This is not an all-inclusive list, but should give you an idea of what dog ownership requires. If you do not think that you can fulfill the needs of a dog, do not adopt a dog. If you have dedicated time to think it through and are confident that you can provide such care than we would love to have you apply for a dog through VCAS.