The more popular a breed becomes, the more likely it is that numerous individual dogs among the breed are being neglected, abandoned or given up by people whose circumstances have changed or who were not capable of taking care of such a dog in the first place. In many cases, dog lovers have created charitable organizations to give misplaced dog of these over-popular breeds a fighting chance. The tiny Maltese is one such breed, and organizations that focus on Maltese rescue exist throughout the United States. In Florida especially, you aren’t short of adoption choices, as there are plenty of Maltese and small dog rescue entities throughout the state.
Make a note of your household circumstances and what you are looking for in a dog. Although the Maltese breed tends to be affectionate and even-tempered, behavior among individuals within the breed vary greatly -- and even more so in the case of rescues, some of which were likely neglected or abused. Key things to consider are your work hours, the ages of children in the family, the personalities of other pets and whether you are looking for a young dog (which would need training) or an older one. Decide whether your heart is set on a purebred Maltese or whether you would like a crossbreed. If you are prepared to look after a special-needs dog, which can be enormously rewarding but requires a great deal of time and patience, note this as well. You’ll need this information once you begin contacting rescue operations.
Compile a list of Maltese rescue agencies and general animal sanctuaries, with the ones closest to you at the top. You'll find a few Maltese rescue operations based in Florida and nationwide in the Resources section of this article, and you can find others by asking a vet, phoning the nearest animal sanctuary for suggestions and conducting an Internet search. Bear in mind that rescue shelters that specialize in small dogs are likely to also have the occasional Maltese pass through, and that any breed can end up in a general animal sanctuary.
Phone the rescue organizations for details on the Maltese they have needing homes. Most rescue operations have websites, but not all of them are up to date. Be aware that some busy charities are often short of time; they might to be able to match you to a dog, but it can take some time. Otherwise, provide all relevant information, ask questions and arrange to visit the individual dogs that might make a good match.
Acquire the necessary equipment. For a Maltese, you need at least a dog harness and leash, a sleeping cushion, a high-quality, small-breed dry dog food, a food bowl and a water bowl, a pooper-scooper and bags, chews and toys. For grooming you need a brush, a wide-tooth comb, pet nail clippers, cotton balls and blunt-nose scissors. The most reputable rescue charities conduct home checks. A representative will visit your house to ensure you're capable of caring for the dog.
Visit the Maltese you're interested in. Remember, you're looking for a dog that would fit best into your life, and that may not necessarily be the first one you visit. They all need homes; but the happiest result, for you and for the dog, will come with the best match. Take along other members of your family, and your pets if possible, to observe how each prospective new Maltese interacts with them.
Bring your chosen Maltese home in a carrying case, and keep things quiet for the first few days. Even if the dog is a confident one, he needs time to settle into the new home. Rescue dogs have potentially been through a lot of traumatic changes even if they have not been abused in any way. Don’t allow children or pets to become boisterous with the new arrival.
Arrange a veterinary appointment within the first week. At the least, your dog should be registered and have a general checkup. The rescue shelter may have already had the dog neutered or spayed and vaccinated; if not, you’ll need to arrange for these later.
Have your new pet’s fur trimmed by a professional groomer. Although the long coat might look appealing, it needs a lot of grooming and may be very uncomfortable for the dog in Florida’s heat and humidity. Use a dog jacket outside if your area gets the occasional cold spell.