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EXPLAINED: How to adopt a rescue dog in Sweden

The Local
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EXPLAINED: How to adopt a rescue dog in Sweden
Sasha, who was adopted from Ireland through Hundar Utan Hem. Photo: private

The Covid-19 pandemic pushed a lot of people in Sweden to bring a longed-for dog into their homes. But for both ethical and financial reasons, adopting your new best friend may be the way to go.


You can tell a lot about people by how they treat a dog, and Swedes tend to treat their canine friends as equal members of their family or household. Here dogs are beloved and have been an integral part of everyday life since the Viking era.

During the first year of the pandemic, both sales and adoptions of dogs hit record levels in Sweden, and they remain high even today. The Swedish Board of Agriculture (Jordbruksverket) says the increase was largely due to people working from home during the pandemic and as a result feeling the need for companionship and also having enough time to care for an animal.

If you're thinking of bringing a fur-baby into your home and want to avoid dodgy backyard “breeders”, supporting puppy mills or people smuggling dogs in horrible conditions across European borders, you should consider adopting a rescue dog over buying a newborn puppy from a breeder. You are often literally saving their life.


Why are dogs abandoned?

Dogs wind up in rescue shelters for a variety of reasons: some are freed from criminal dog-fighting rings, some are abandoned by former owners relocating, losing interest, or lacking the income to care for them. Often if these dogs are unable to find a home, there is a strong possibility that they will be put down.

Mandatory first steps

It’s important to note, first off, that the adoption process can be lengthy, and that reputable organisations have comprehensive forms for you to fill out.

You will also probably be interviewed to determine your suitability for the dog. They adoption organisations will want to assess your home size and environment; whether you rent or own (and if pets are allowed); what your lifestyle and daily routines are like; whether you have kids and other pets; and if you have had previous experience with dogs.

Following approval, you will be required to register your dog at Jordbruksverket. All dogs in Sweden must be marked with a unique ID number and registered, using BankID and your Swedish personal number, in the Swedish Board of Agriculture's central dog register. Next, the dog will be required to be chipped or tattooed for identification, and, if he or she is coming from abroad, have proof of rabies vaccination and a passport.

There are a lot of extensive, constantly updated, animal welfare laws to keep track of and brush up on, such as those covered previously in The Local here and here.

Pros of adoption

For starters, regardless of their past experiences, most dogs are kind and want nothing more than to be a member of a loving pack. Adopted dogs frequently become faithful companions who never leave your side.

In many cases, adult dogs will have previously been housetrained, and are tested by adoption agencies for compatibility with other animals and children, as well as having received basic training.

Adopting a dog is also frequently less expensive than purchasing one from a breeder or through Blocket, the Swedish online second-hand market.

Veterinary fees and travel to Sweden are covered by adoption organisations. They not only ensure that as many people as possible can afford to adopt a dog, but the funds go towards continuing to save more animals.

Dogs brought from abroad through trustworthy organisations arrive in Sweden with all the necessary immunisations and veterinary checks completed.

Additionally, the dog receives a passport and an identification chip, and the agencies will often offer assistance and guidance after the dog arrives.


Some caveats

As a potential adopter, you should be informed of certain risks and weigh them up carefully before deciding if adoption is suitable for you.

Veterinary bills for dogs can quickly mount up. The amount a dog insurance policy covers varies depending on the dog's age, breed, and health background. As a result, you should check with insurance firms before adopting to see what terms they have. 

Everything the dog has gone through in the past will play a role in his or her conduct. Fear, separation anxiety, and aggression are common behavioural issues in dogs raised in hostile, traumatic environments.

It is critical that everyone who adopts a dog understands this and is certain that they have the time and patience to help the dog process these issues and re-establish positive human associations.

Feel free to seek assistance from the organisation from which you adopted. They will often be able to refer you to a reputable professional dog trainer. 


Before your new best friend arrives

Decide where the dog will spend most of his or her time. The dog may be stressed after relocating from the shelter to your home, so he or she may forget to poo or pee outside. This means it might be best to keep the dog in an area where accidents can be easily cleaned up. Giving the dog their own bed is also a good idea so he or she has a refuge during the first few stressful days and nights.

You should also dog-proof your home. You should, for example, hide cords that hang or lie where the dog can reach them, ensure that the dog does not have access to anything dangerous it might ingest (cleaning products, etc.), remove carpets that cannot be washed, and place plants and fragile items out of harm's way.


The first days

Ideally, you’ll want to be off work for a week or two. Plan the arrival at the start of a long weekend, and take advantage of holidays. Dumping her at a doggy daycare (hunddagis) too early will trigger anxiety and confusion. Pick up your new dog in a car if possible. Going via public transportation with a stressed dog is a disaster waiting to happen.

Ask what food the dog is used to when you pick it up. Adopted dogs typically have nervous stomachs as a result of the stress, so it's good to give them the same food they were eating before. If you can't find out what the dog was eating, it's a good idea to choose dog food that is gentle on the stomach. 

Before you start exposing your adopted dog to others, make sure you give him or her time to adjust to her new home and family. If your family includes youngsters, teach them how to approach the dog without overwhelming it. A stressed dog may behave in unpredictable ways.

When you get home, take the dog outside immediately and give her plenty of time to fulfil her needs before returning indoors. Regarding walks, it’s important to stick to the same route every day for a few weeks, as he or she’ll have enough to process as is.

As soon as possible, you should begin obedience training. It's critical to be consistent in your dog's training to make the process go more smoothly. Make certain that everyone in the household understands how to train the dog and what terms to use. Prepare for a lot of time and patience during the training!

The ultimate bond

Adopting a dog is a major commitment that lasts a lifetime. Relocated dogs frequently have had a terrible life in the past and hence struggle with the transition to your home. It's important that you understand what this entails and that you be prepared to put in a lot of effort, time, and patience. Adopting a dog, on the other hand, is extremely fulfilling, and the satisfaction that comes from knowing that you are helping one to have a better life is unrivalled.


Trusted adoption organisations 

Hundar Utan Hem (“Dogs Without Homes”)

Hundar Utan Hem saves and relocates dogs in danger in Sweden and Ireland. Every year, they move about 1,000 pets. The majority of the dogs come from Ireland, where tens of thousands of canines are killed every year. In Sweden, the need to relocate dogs is also increasing, and there are numerous reasons for this such as strained family ties or the death of an owner. Every year, Hundar Utan Hem assists over 150 Swedish pets in finding new homes.

Hundar Utan Hem is a politically and religiously neutral organisation, relying on donations to aid all dogs. Monthly contributors, members, and sponsors enable them to preserve and assist needy pets.

Hundstallet (“The dog stable”)

The Swedish Dog Protection Association, a non-profit organisation, runs “the stable”. Created in 1908, they have cared for tens of thousands of pets and helped them find homes throughout their more than 100-year history.  The organisation receives no municipal or governmental funding and is entirely reliant on public and private donations. All year, Hundstallet accepts dogs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, ensuring that vulnerable dogs who end up at Hundstallet for any reason get the best possible care based on their circumstances and find a new loving home.

SOS Animals Sweden

The mission of SOS Animals Sweden is to constantly work for the best interests of both the canines and the adopters. They strive to provide the best possible conditions for you and your new family member by carefully executing placements.

By Matthew Weaver 


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