If you are looking for a new best friend in Western Pennsylvania and have your heart set on an adult Labrador retriever, you (and your new buddy) are in luck. There are many options for uniting with the perfect furry family member.
There are enormous benefits to adopting an adult Lab. Young Labs are legendary for their toothiness, which spares no book, sock or piece of furniture. Most adult labs have outgrown this predilection for ventilating your every belonging. Though there are exceptions, most adult dogs are already potty-trained. It can also be easier to potty-train an adult dog because an adult can hold his bladder longer than puppies. Perhaps most important, an adult Lab will allow you to gather an immediate sense of his temperament, activity level, likes and dislikes -- no waiting around to see what kind of companion a puppy will grow into.
Labradors are, sadly, well-represented among Pennsylvania shelters and rescue operations. Their adult size and mouthy, energetic puppyhood lead many owners to change their minds after purchase.
If there's a silver lining it's that it won't be difficult for you to find the doggy of your dreams and gain the lasting joy and satisfaction of rescuing your new-found friend from an unfortunate or uncertain future.
The easiest and least expensive place to find a Lab in Pennsylvania is a county animal shelter. Most Pennsylvania county shelters are run by local Humane Societies, or branches of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. These shelters rely largely on donations and resort to euthanasia to deal with an overabundance of discarded pets. Adopting from a shelter saves the lives of dogs and ensures space and resources for the care of other unwanted dogs as well.
Most Pennsylvania county shelters have websites you can search specifically for adult Labrador retrievers, and all invite prospective pet adopters to come in during business hours and meet the animals in their care. Directories in the Resources section can help match you with the newest member of your family pack. Adoption fees are usually nominal (less than 25 percent of the cost of a purebred puppy) and usually include shots, spaying or neutering, and licensure. Pennsylvania shelters require a photo ID. The application process is usually easy, and almost all adoptions are completed the same day.
Private rescue groups devote unlimited time to a few purebred or mixed-breed dogs (which may be with the rescue for months or years), rather than resorting to euthanasia to free up space.
Rescues tend to know the individual dogs in their care very well. They also tend to have a larger number of dogs that have suffered severe abuse or neglect, as opposed to shelters, whose dogs were often given up for "owner-based challenges," such as a move or unwillingness to invest time in training.
Private rescue fees tend to be higher than at public shelters. The application is typically very thorough and may include family interviews and multiple home visits.
Angela Libal began writing professionally in 2005. She has published several books, specializing in zoology and animal husbandry. Libal holds a degree in behavioral science: animal science from Moorpark College, a Bachelor of Arts from Sarah Lawrence College and is a graduate student in cryptozoology.