Adopting A Pet From A Shelter

Adopt a Shelter PetOctober is “National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month”.  So we thought we would share some information about just how rewarding it can be to adopt a pet from a shelter and give it a wonderful, loving home.  There are dogs and cats of all ages, sizes and colors available through shelters and you have a great chance of finding a companion to match your family and lifestyle.

Why Adopt a Shelter Pet?

You are saving lives!  Sometimes dogs and cats wind up in a shelter due to situations like a death in a family, illness, moving, or divorce.  These animals have already lived in a home and will usually be affectionate and healthy.  There are other animals that are given up due to behavior problems that were never addressed by the previous owner or they weren’t able to resolve.  These animals are a little more challenging and will need some training or retraining to learn to live in his new home.  Most shelters evaluate a dogs or cats behavior and will match him with a knowledgable or willing new owner.  Some shelters have volunteers who will work on retraining before the pet is adopted.

There usually is an adoption fee which helps support the work of the shelter in rescue, exams, vaccines and spaying or neutering pets before adoption.

Before Going To The Shelter

It is a good idea to have a list of questions to ask the shelter staff about dogs or cats prior to adopting a pet from a shelter.  Some questions to ask are:

Is the pet good with children?

Is the dog good with cats or other animals:

What do they know about their history?

Is there a behavior evaluation?

What is his personality like?

Does he walk well on a leash?

Is he affectionate, calm, energetic, fearful, shy, outgoing?

During The Shelter Visit

During your visit to the shelter don’t be surprised when the shelter asks you for a reference, or asks you a series of questions to be sure you are a good fit the animal.  They need to make sure you know you are making a lifetime commitment to give your new pet a forever home.

Walk through the entire kennel area at least one time to see which dogs or cats appeal to you.  Look for signs of friendliness (wagging, wiggling, pawing).  If you have children you may want to stay away from dogs that hang back in cage or seem fearful.

Due to the stress of being in a kennel situation sometimes dogs can be shy and quiet while others bark and jump like crazy.  You can ask the shelter staff if you can visit the dog outside of the kennel to see if he is calmer and friendlier.

Spend some time with your top choices.  Most shelters will let you visit the cat or dog several times before you make a decision.  You may even be able to take the dog for a walk around the grounds.

It is a good idea to visit your chosen pet more than one time.  If a shelter allows a 24 hour hold, take advantage of it.   Make sure your family meets the new family member.  You want everyone to feel comfortable with the new pet.  And it’s a good idea to see how the pet reacts to everyone in your household.  When everyone is happy your new pet will be a part of your family for years to come.

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