There are millions of pets in shelters waiting for their new owners to come and take them to their forever homes. Adopting a pet is more than bringing a new member into your family; it could also quite literally save the animal’s life.
Adoption can be quite a process, but it’s easy to navigate the steps if you have some good advice. You should take the time to meet with the animals in the shelter to find one with a personality that truly speaks to you. Sometimes you’ll find a connection relatively quickly. Or, it could take weeks until you find your new best friend.
No matter how long it takes, you should never rush the process. To make things easier, you can follow these important yet incredibly simple pet adoption tips.
Choose a Pet That Fits Your Lifestyle
Before you even head to the shelter, you’ll need to determine the best type of pet that will integrate perfectly with your lifestyle. For many people, it’s a dog, but others prefer cats for their independence and low-maintenance care.
Consider the size of the animal and the size of your home. With dogs, you’ll have a choice between different breeds and sizes, but keep in mind that shelters aren’t supermarkets. It could take weeks or months to find your ideal pet.
Whatever you do, don’t settle for a pet that you won’t be able to care for. Having to return a pet to a shelter or pass them along to a friend or family member will only cause more trauma and instability.
Avoid ‘Project’ Pets for your First Adoption
If you’re adopting for the first time, it pays to avoid pets that need a lot of work and training. Your first shelter rescue will already require more care and attention than a pet that has come from a stable home.
Dogs that are overly fearful, ill, or even disabled are better left to experienced caregivers.
Of course, if you’re willing to invest the time and love that it takes to care for and train an abused or previously injured animal, then you should go with your gut instinct. Just make sure you are ready to commit to their care.
Find a Vet Before You Adopt
Pets up for adoption are typically in good health and have received vaccinations and medical checkups. Even so, you’ll still need a trusted veterinarian on speed dial for any issues that arise once you take your newest family member home.
The ideal vet will be close to your home and they will have positive reviews and testimonials. Ideally, you should also choose a vet that has an after-hours emergency service.
Get Your Home Pet-Safe
Welcoming a pet into your home is an exciting and heartwarming experience. But, before you get ahead of yourself, make sure that you have made your home pet-friendly.
Some plants can make cats and dogs sick, so you will need to remove these before bringing pets home. Examples include lilies, chrysanthemums, tulips, sago palms, English ivy, and castor bean plants. If in doubt, list all the plants inside and outside your home and talk to your local vet before adopting.
Dangerous and heavy ornaments and decorations should also be removed or secured before you introduce a pet into your home.
Get Your Supplies in Advance
Pick up all the necessary supplies once you’ve found the perfect animal to adopt. Food, a bed, toys, collars, leashes/harnesses, litter boxes, scratching posts, etc. should all be stocked before you bring your new pet home.
Most importantly, make sure you ask questions about any animal that you are considering. Shelter staff will be able to provide you medical history, any procedures that they’ve performed, details on personality, and any other pertinent information that will help you to make the right decision. If you’re uncomfortable about anything that you learn, don’t be afraid to move on and consider another animal for adoption.
According to the American SPCA, 6.5 million animals enter shelters each year. There’s an almost perfect 50/50 split between cats and dogs. Only 3.2 million of these animals are adopted, and we need to increase this figure to save the lives of the millions who get left behind.
Adopting an animal is the most compassionate way to bring a pet into your home. Take your time, wait until you’re comfortable, and make sure you are completely prepared to give a lifetime of love and safety to your newly adopted pet.