Pet Adoption

Dog wearing Santa cap

Pets as Christmas Gifts

Each year, with the best and most generous of intentions, people give pets as Christmas gifts. But if you search for “pets as Christmas gifts” on Google or Bing, you’ll find more warnings than support of the idea.

At Brownsburg Animal Clinic, we dedicate ourselves to promoting and supporting successful pet ownership. We believe at any time of year, giving a pet as a gift to another person—particularly as a surprise—can potentially turn out to be bad for the people and pets involved. We also believe, with proper consideration and preparation, giving a pet as a gift can result in a happy, mutually-satisfying relationship for the life of the pet.

And research backs us up.

One study published in the journal Animals examined whether receiving an animal as a gift had an impact on the owner’s love for or attachment to the pet and found no significant difference in attachment to pets between gift recipients and people who had acquired their pets themselves. Some owners feel an even greater attachment to the pet received as a gift because a loved one was the giver. Surprise gifts of animals were acceptable to 75% of those who had received them and some said the surprise itself strengthened their attachment.

Other studies have looked at whether cats and dogs received as gifts are more likely to be surrendered to a shelter than those acquired in other ways. Contrary to what you might expect, it turns out animals given as gifts have a significantly lower risk of ending up in a shelter than dogs and cats purchased or acquired by the owners.

In light of these facts, why do so many people warn against pets as Christmas gifts? Here are the major reasons:

  • Bringing a companion animal into a household creates a major responsibility for the lifetime of the pet, which could be 10 to 15 or more years for a dog or cat. Caring for a pet takes time, money and commitment. Only the primary caregiver can decide if he or she is willing and able to take on the responsibility for a pet.
  • Matching the right pet to the household and lifestyle of the owner(s) requires thoughtful consideration. Pets vary in their needs for time, space and attention, exercise and training. Making a sound, thoughtful choice is key to the longterm success of the relationship, and only the prospective owner can say what his or her true requirements and preferences are.
  • Children who receive pets as Christmas gifts may not be ready, willing nor able to take responsibility for the animal’s care. Older children may take on much of the care, but the adults in the household should expect to be the primary caregivers.
  • Holidays can be hectic, and there are often additional household hazards, such as ornaments, electrical cords, potentially harmful plants and foods, to endanger a pet. Bringing an animal into the household at such a busy time of year places unnecessary stress on the pet and can make the adjustment more difficult than it would be at more “normal” times of the year.

We agree these are all critically important considerations. But we believe, with some creativity and common sense, the gift of a pet can work. Here’s how:

  • As appealing as the image of a kitten or puppy under a Christmas tree can be, we strongly prefer the idea of representing the pet with a stuffed animal.
  • New pets need lots of gear–food, food bowls, collars and leashes, beds, carriers, crates and healthful, safe treats. All these can be waiting under the tree in anticipation of the new pet.
  • Matching the pet to the household and owner requires some thoughtful consideration and can benefit from research. Another great holiday gift, instead of the pet itself, is a book about choosing a pet.
  • Finally, once the new owner has considered and clarified the type of pet he or she will most enjoy and appreciate, we strongly encourage giving the pet the gift of a great new home by acquiring it from a shelter or rescue organization.

At Brownsburg Animal Clinic, every one of us is dedicated to enriching and supporting our clients’ relationships with their pets. We consider all our animal companions to be gifts, providing us unconditional love and enriching our lives with their playfulness and winning ways. If you are the giver or a receiver of a pet this Christmas, we will be happy to support you in making the relationship a success.

Two dogs chewing on a stick

Celebrating National Mutt Day

The Brownsburg Animal Clinic team invites you to join us in celebrating National Mutt Day on December 2, to appreciate, honor and celebrate mixed-breed dogs.

Just what is a mutt?

It’s not a purebred dog, which results from selective mating of only registered stock of the same breed. The American Kennel Club currently registers 200 separate dog breeds. The Fédération Cynologique Internationale—the World Canine Organization or FCI—recognizes 356 breeds worldwide.

It’s not a hybrid dog, which results from the deliberate mating of two purebred dogs from different breeds with the goal of reproducing the most desirable characteristics of each breed in the resulting offspring.

A mixed-breed dog or mutt is born of two dogs that are not from the same breed—or perhaps not from any one particular breed themselves. Usually, a mutt’s ancestry is unknown. Mutts come in all sizes, shapes and colors.

Some of our favorite patients are mutts!

Are Mutts Healthier Than Purebred Dogs?

It is widely believed that mutts are healthier and live longer than purebred dogs, but many of our purebred patients are living long, healthy lives while some of the mutts we care for have seemingly more than their share of health problems.

To determine if mixed-breed dogs are indeed healthier than purebred dogs, a study published in 2013 used medical records of more than 27,000 dogs treated at the veterinary clinic at UC Davis, comparing the incidence of 24 genetic disorders in mixed-breed versus purebred dogs.

The researchers found the incidence of 10 of the 24 genetic disorders was significantly greater in purebred dogs. The incidence of one disorder—ruptured cranial cruciate ligament—was greater in mixed-breed dogs. For the other 13 disorders compared, the researchers found no difference in incidence between mixed-breed and purebred dogs.

So yes, mixed-breed dogs have been shown to be at lower risk than purebreds for some genetic disorders. But for many, there’s no significant difference.

A summary of the study is posted on the Institute of Canine Biology website.

Should Your Next Dog Be a Mutt?

The choice of your next pet is a very personal one, and there is no right or wrong answer. But if you’re open to adopting a mixed-breed dog, you’ll find they generally have all the makings of fine companions and family pets, just as the purebreds and hybrids do.

You’ll also find mutts are more readily available than purebred dogs. About 80% of shelter dogs are mutts.

While the costs of care and feeding purebreds, hybrids and mutts are similar, the up-front cost of acquiring a mixed-breed dog is typically lower than the hundreds or even thousands you’ll pay for a purebred or hybrid dog.

Best of all, your mutt will be one-of-a-kind.

How Will You and Your Mutt Celebrate?

If you are already the proud owner of a mixed-breed dog, we hope you’ll make December 2 special for your mutt.

Some extra pats on the head and tosses of the Frisbee, a longer-than-usual walk, a ride in the car that could include a trip to the drive-though—anything you know your mutt loves (within reason!) will be a great way to celebrate National Mutt Day.

Cat inside shelter cage reaching for a man's fingers outside the cage

‘A County Shelter We Can Be Proud Of’

Brownsburg Animal Clinic joins the Humane Society of the United States in celebrating National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week November 6 through 12.

In particular, we honor our own Hendricks County Animal Shelter for its many years of dedicated service to our county.

“I’m really proud of our shelter,” said Cherie Fox, co-founder, board president and director of animal operations for Misty Eyes Animal Center, an all-volunteer rescue organization based in Avon that collaborates with shelters to save lives and place pets in loving homes.

“The Hendricks County Animal Shelter is a government-run shelter,” said Fox, “but it’s not a 1950s dog pound any more. They are doing a remarkable job. It’s a county shelter we can be proud of.”

LaDonna Hughes is chief animal control officer and Hendricks County Animal Shelter manager. She’s been in charge of running the shelter since mid-2013.

“We’ve come a long way,” said Hughes, “but I still hear the word ‘pound’ a lot. We get called the dogcatcher. There’s so much more to what we do than catching dogs.”

Besides capturing and providing a safe haven for stray animals county-wide, our county shelter takes in pets from owners who can no longer care for them and makes homeless pets available for adoption. The Hendricks County Animal Shelter is also charged with investigating abuse and neglect cases and following up on reports of injured animals. They are responsible not only for domestic pets but livestock and wildlife, too.

Shelter Facts and Figures

There is currently no organization officially charged with tabulating statistics for animal shelter operations in the United States. The following nationwide figures are estimates from several sources.

  • As of 2021, there were more than 3,500 animal shelters.
  • About 6.3 million companion animals are taken into shelters each year, including about 3.1 million dogs and 3.2 million cats. Of those, about a quarter are pets surrendered to the shelter by their owners. About half are captured as strays.
  • The average shelter admits more than 1,100 animals a year.
  • About 10% of shelter animals have been spayed or neutered.
  • About 25% of dogs in shelters are purebreds.
  • About 810,000 stray animals taken into shelters, including 710,000 dogs and 100,000 cats, are reunited with their owners.
  • About 4.1 million shelter animals, including 2 million dogs and 2.1 million cats, are placed in new homes each year.
  • Indiana shelters house 2.11% of the nation’s shelter animals and account for 2.07% of shelter adoptions.
  • About 920,000 animals are euthanized each year, including 390,000 dogs and 530,000 cats.
  • About 65% of dogs entering shelters are adopted and 13% are euthanized.
  • About 66% of shelter cats are adopted and 17% are euthanized.

The Hendricks County Animal Shelter

Our county’s animal shelter is in Danville at 250 East Campus Boulevard. The phone number is (317) 745-9250. The shelter is open to the public six days a week.

  • Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Tuesdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Thursdays 12 noon to 6 p.m.
  • Saturdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The shelter is closed on Sundays and holidays and in inclement weather.

Local Statistics

During 2021, the Hendricks County Animal Shelter took in 1,490 animals. Of those, 455 were placed in adoptive homes. 

Rescue organizations pulled 338 animals from the shelter in 2021, including about 300 rats and small animals confiscated in two hoarding and neglect cases handled by the county last year.

The euthanasia rate in 2021 was 6%. Only severely ill and dangerously aggressive animals were euthanized.

“I am pretty proud of that 6% euthanasia rate,” said Hughes. “There was a time about 10 years ago, when our rate of euthanasias was 77% of our total admissions.”

Admissions to the Shelter

The shelter has 34 dog kennels and 60 cat cages to accommodate animals admitted to the shelter.

Animals come to the shelter as strays or from owners who can no longer care for them. Owners who want to surrender their pets to the shelter may be referred to a rescue organization or put on a waiting list until space is available. 

The intake process involves a basic medical examination and essential health care.

“We check them over the best we can,” said Hughes. “We give them core vaccines and start them on flea and tick preventives. We test for heartworms and start them on preventives or treat them if they test positive.”

The shelter has to hold animals taken in as strays for three business days before making them available for adoption so that owners have a chance to claim them. “We take their picture and put up a shelter alert on our Facebook page in hopes of finding the owner,” said Hughes.

Animals surrendered by their owners may be placed for adoption 24 hours after being admitted to the shelter. 

“People still ask, ‘Are you going to kill it after three days?’” said Hughes. “We get that a lot. 

“If they’re adoptable, they will be cared for and kept safe either here or with a rescue organization until they’re adopted. We don’t set deadlines on these animals, and we don’t euthanize for space. Only if an animal is dangerously aggressive or too ill for treatment, will we euthanize.”

To Adopt a Shelter Pet

Some pets available for adoption from the Hendricks County Animal Shelter are listed on Petfinder.com.

You can also see available pets as well as recently-adopted pets and their new families on the shelter’s Facebook page

For your convenience, the shelter makes the adoption application available online for you to complete and bring with you when you visit the shelter.

“We’re open to the public six days a week, and we invite anyone looking to adopt a dog or cat to stop by for a visit to see all the pets available now for adoption,” said Hughes. 

“Sometimes we have multiple applications for the same animal. We go through those and try to get the best fit, based on the applicant’s situation and their interactions with the animal. For some, we might suggest a better fit—maybe encourage them to go home and do some research to find a breed that might be better-suited to their activity level and lifestyle. 

“We always do our best to place each animal into the best possible adoptive home.”

Current adoption fees, set to help defray the costs of vaccines, spaying or neutering and any needed medical treatment, are $70 for adult dogs, $150 for puppies, $20 for adult cats and $70 for kittens.

To Donate to the Shelter

The shelter welcomes donated supplies. While needs change over time, some supplies are always welcome. “Right now, the most helpful donation would be regular chlorine bleach,” said Hughes. “We can always use any kind of dog food as long as it doesn’t contain red food dye, and any kind of cat and kitten food. We also need clay litter.”

Tax-deductible cash donations to the Hendricks County Animal Shelter can be made to the Hendricks County Friends of the Shelter, a 501(c)(3) organization.

“All the money given to Friends of the Shelter goes directly into a medical fund for the animals,” noted Hughes.

To Volunteer

The shelter welcomes volunteers to help care for and play with the animals, clean cages, launder blankets and towels, do clerical work and staff special events. 

To volunteer at the shelter, you must be 18 years old or older or at least 16 years old and accompanied by a parent. You must complete a Volunteer Application form and attend a volunteer orientation session before starting to work.

“Right now, I would most love to have more volunteers in here walking the dogs,” said Hughes. “We walk them all in the morning, but sometimes we can’t get to all of them in the evenings.” 

If you are interested in providing a temporary foster home for a pet, the shelter will connect you with a partner rescue group in our area, such as Misty Eyes.

Other Ways You Can Help

“We have a huge pet overpopulation problem and the pandemic has intensified it,” said Fox.

“In central Indiana we have five low-cost spay and neuter clinics that had to shut down for months at the outset of the pandemic. That left us with thousands of animals that haven’t been fixed and thousands of unwanted litters. Despite everything we’d done to get ourselves ahead with spays and neuters, the pandemic set us back about 10 or 15 years.”

“I agree 100 percent,” said Hughes. “We’ve been over capacity for a good year now.”

You can do your part to help reduce the pet overpopulation problem by spaying or neutering your own pet.

You can also minimize the chances your pet will be taken in as a stray at the shelter by taking these simple steps:

  • Do not allow your pet to run loose.
  • Keep a collar with identification tags on your pet at all times.
  • Have an identification chip implanted in your pet.

In Appreciation

We at Brownsburg Animal Clinic appreciate the vital role the Hendricks County Animal Shelter plays in looking out for the welfare of all the animals in our county.

We applaud the progress the shelter has made in recent years to reduce the euthanasia rate to 6%—a direct result of their commitment to find homes for every adoptable pet, whether through direct placement from the shelter or through a rescue organization such as Misty Eyes.

We hope you will consider supporting the shelter and the dogs and cats waiting there to be adopted into their new homes.

Black Labrador retriever with graying muzzle

ASPCA’s Adopt a Senior Pet Month

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® has designated November as Adopt a Senior Pet Month. The Brownsburg Animal Clinic team joins the ASPCA® in encouraging you to consider welcoming an older dog or cat into your household.

Kittens and puppies are cute! But adopting an older pet has advantages.

  • Adult dogs and cats need less monitoring and training than puppies and kittens do.
  • Many senior pets up for adoption are already house-trained.
  • Senior pets tend to be less destructive than younger ones.
  • Senior pets are already mature and fully-grown, so you know what to expect in terms of size and temperament from the beginning.
  • Opening your home and heart to a senior pet is a nice thing to do.

Senior pets are the least likely to be adopted from shelters. Your decision to adopt a senior dog or cat offers obvious benefits to the pet, allowing them to enjoy their remaining years in the comfort of a loving home.

To help you make a better-informed decision about adopting an older pet—and to help any of our clients provide better care for aging pets—we’re linking to a video from the American Veterinary Medical Association titled, “Elderly Pets and Your Veterinarian.” In less than six minutes, the video provides a good overview of health concerns of older pets.

Finding Your Senior Pet

To find the right senior pet for you, we encourage you to visit Misty Eyes Animal Center and the Hendricks County Animal Shelter.

If you’re interested in adopting a dog of a specific breed, visit the American Kennel Club’s Rescue Network. Visit the Specialty Purebred Cat Rescue website to find surrendered and abandoned purebred cats available for adoption.

Corgi emerging from a pile of autumn leaves

Adopt-A-Dog Month®

October is American Humane’s yearly “Adopt-a-Dog Month®.”

For some of the very best reasons to adopt a dog this month, here’s a top-10 list of the benefits of dog ownership, presented in a 3:33 video from Animalwised, founded overseas in 2015 to educate people about all sorts of animal-related topics.

For more information on dog ownership—especially if you will be a first-time dog-owner—we encourage you to read “Is a Dog Right for You?” posted on American Humane’s website.

If you are thinking of adding a dog to your household, we hope you’ll consider adopting a rescued dog from a breed club or from Misty Eyes Animal Center.

Belgian Malinois

Choosing Your Next Dog

Channing Tatum’s new movie “Dog” features the popular actor co-starring with a Belgian Malinois (pronounced MAL-in-wah) named Lulu, portrayed onscreen by three different dogs. 

If the movie’s a hit, the Brownsburg Animal Clinic team won’t be at all surprised in the coming months to see an uptick in the number of Belgian Malinois among our new patients. 

We know Mals can be great pets, but we also know they could potentially be “too much dog” for many of our clients. Whether or not these “Dog”-inspired adoptions will work out well for the dogs and families involved depends on how good a fit this intelligent, high-energy herding breed is with the clients’ households and lifestyles as well as on the temperaments of the individual owners and their dogs. 

Before you go looking for a Lulu of your own—or a Lassie (Collie), a Toto (Cairn Terrier), a Marley (Labrador Retriever), a Beethoven (St. Bernard), a Rin Tin Tin (German Shepherd Dog) or any other breed that strikes your fancy—we strongly encourage you to do plenty of research on the breed you’re considering before bringing home a puppy!

Researching the Breeds

A Google search for “choosing a dog” produces approximately 179,000,000 results, with some pages far more authoritative and informative than others. We suggest the American Kennel Club website as a great place to begin learning about established dog breeds. There you’ll find reliable information about each of the 197 breeds currently recognized by the AKC. 

For example, if you leave the theater after seeing “Dog” convinced your next dog must be a Belgian Malinois, your first stop on the internet should be the Belgian Malinois breed page on the AKC website. There you’ll find a summary of key breed characteristics that should alert you to the realities as well as the rewards of ownership of a typical Belgian Malinois. 

Midway down the page, you’ll find a link to the American Belgian Malinois Club website. The first heading on the homepage says, “This is NOT Your Typical Pet Dog,” and after briefly summarizing the breed’s assets, the first paragraph in that section concludes, “But, the Malinois is NOT for everyone.”

In the page footer, you’ll find links to related pages of interest, including a firsthand account by a Belgian Malinois owner, “Is the Belgian Malinois a Good Fit for You?

Suppose after reading these pages you realize, despite your enthusiasm for the three well-bred, professionally-trained dogs you enjoyed watching play Lulu for two hours on the big screen, in real life a Belgian Malinois in your home 24/7/365 for the next 14 to 16 years will almost certainly require more time and attention than you can realistically expect to offer. 

As a next step, you might enjoy visiting the AKC’s online Dog Breed Selector. After answering a series of simple questions, the selector tool will recommend several breeds for your consideration. Chances are you can find a more suitable breed to consider for yourself and your family. Browse their breed pages to see if the recommended breeds might be a better match for you and your household.

Also on the AKC site, we encourage you to read “What Dog is Right for Me? How to Choose the Perfect Breed.” Then browse more breed pages. Watch dog shows online or on TV. Better yet, visit shows in person and talk to the breeders and exhibitors (after they’ve finished showing for the day). 

A Look at the Bigger Picture

For even more practical advice on choosing a pet dog, offered from the veterinary perspective, see “Selecting a Pet Dog” on the American Veterinary Medical Association’s website. To get the most from this page, answer all the questions presented as thoroughly and honestly as you can.

Let Us Help

Finally, in addition to online research, we encourage you to talk to us before you finalize your decision to acquire a dog of an unfamiliar, potentially challenging breed. 

We’ve devoted our careers to caring for pets and their owners, and we have observed relationships between a variety of clients with a variety of breeds. We’re happy to share what we know about what it’s like to own and care for all sorts of purebred dogs.

We see many clients who are happily devoted to their mixed-breed dogs and recommend you also consider adopting a mixed-breed dog from Misty Eyes Animal Center in Avon or some other reputable rescue organization. 

As always, as your veterinarian, our primary mission is to support you in your relationship with whatever dog you choose. We wish you and all our clients the happiest of endings to all your pet adoption stories.

A seated green-eyed cat outdoors

Adopt a Cat

The American Humane Association has declared June Adopt a Cat Month, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals encourages you to adopt a shelter cat during June.

The checklist on the AHA’s web site offers some great advice for first-time cat owners.

For a very basic overview of cat behavior, check out the AVMA’s video, Cat Behavior 101.

To find a cat who needs a home, we encourage you to visit Misty Eyes Animal Center at 640 East Main Street here in Brownsburg, or visit their web site to see photographs of cats available for adoption.