Adopting a Pet

Animal Rescue and Animal Sanctuaries
Be Kind—Adopt A Pet
Pet Adoption 101
Pet Adoption and Children
Pet Adoption and Children, Part Two
What To Expect At Your Animal Shelter
Top 5 Reasons To Adopt A Dog

Tip #1: Animal Rescue and Animal Sanctuaries

Dog shelter

What is the difference between an animal rescue organization and an animal sanctuary? Animal rescue organizations often specialize in one breed of dog or cat (for example, golden retrievers) or one type of animal, such as cats. On the other hand, animal sanctuaries are usually created to help endangered species recover or to provide homes to exotic animals, such as big cats, that can't be adopted as house pets.

Tip #2: Be Kind—Adopt a Pet

Dog and cat

Adopting pets from local shelters or rescue groups can save the lives of animals that might be faced with euthanasia because homes can’t be found for them.

The pets boarded in your neighborhood shelters don't necessarily have behavioral issues. Many of these animals are loving pets in need of good homes because their owners could no longer take care of them. Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence. When you adopt a pet, you are giving an animal a second chance.

So, before you buy a new puppy or kitten consider adopting from your local animal shelter. You'll be giving a home to a pet that desperately needs one, and you can feel good knowing that you saved the life of a loving new friend.

Tip #3: How to Adopt a Dog

Labrador retriever puppy

When you decide to adopt a dog, there are some things you need to know:

  • Before you go to the agency or shelter, visit their Web site to find out what variety of dogs they have.
  • Call the shelter to find out if they have a specific breed you’re looking for, or ask for a recommendation for a breed-specific agency in your area.
  • Find out if the shelter neuters or spays the dog, administers necessary vaccinations and if they provide a complimentary bag of food to get you started.
  • Next, make sure you have a collar and leash, or a carrier for a small dog before you visit the shelter.
  • When you arrive at the shelter, you'll have to fill out a pre-adoption form for pet ownership approval, unless the shelter makes that step available online.
  • Find out if your new dog needs vaccines, and if the agency has an available veterinarian or one they recommend.

Once your adoption is complete, schedule a veterinary appointment for your dog’s first checkup. Ensuring his health is the first step to establishing a long-lasting bond.

Tip #4: Pet Adoption 101

If adopting a pet is a new experience, follow these helpful tips:

Dog at the shelter
  • First, if you're adopting a puppy or kitten, make sure your home is pet-proofed so your new pet cannot be injured by unstable furniture, electric cords and poisonous substances in your bathroom, kitchen and garage.
  • Next, make sure you're willing to make the time and a personal commitment that your new pet needs, including providing medical care.
  • When you adopt a pet you expect the bond to last a lifetime, so be financially prepared to afford proper veterinary care that will protect your pet’s health.
  • Make certain your family is ready for a pet, too. Prepare young children for the responsibilities of caring for a pet. Make them aware of things which pose a threat, such as household dangers and food toxicities, and show them how to gently handle a pet.
  • Do you have room for your pet to grow? If you adopt a large dog, will he have room to get the daily exercise he needs in your yard, or will you have to take him for a walk every day?

If you want a pet as a lifelong companion and family friend, you're on the right track. If you don't really understand the commitment a pet needs, consider learning more about pet ownership then decide if you're ready for pet adoption.

Tip #5: Pet Adoption and Children

Child and Labrador retriever puppy

Pet adoption can be a rewarding experience for a child. Kids should be involved in every step of the process so that they understand the responsibility of pet adoption. This also gives them a say in the process of bringing a new pet home.

Good chemistry between the dog and the child is key in the early stages; if a dog and owner bond right away the adjustment period after you adopt a pet will be easier for everyone. Because dogs are pack animals by nature, it's important to establish a dog's new "pack" status with you and your family quickly. Your child will also be more emotionally invested if he or she helped adopt a pet rather than having one picked for him or her.

Tip #6: Pet Adoption and Children, Part Two

Dog and girl

When it's time to adopt a pet in a house with children, many people rightfully have concerns about aggressive dog breeds. Pay close attention to aggressive dog behavior. Much of a dog's behavior depends on how it is trained and cared for, but some breeds are naturally more aggressive than others. Pet adoption can be made safer for kids by adopting puppies and socializing the dog around the children from the earliest age possible. Unfortunately, dog rescue centers aren't ideal places to adopt a pet for kids unless you know the history of the animal.

When small children are involved, avoid pet adoption when the dog has been abused. Adults are well-suited to care for an abused animal from a dog rescue center, but young children don't understand that some pets need to be treated with special care because of past abuse. A dog that grows up with the children will be more protective of them than a grown animal requiring socializing and training to help fit in to the family.

Tip #7: What to Expect at Your Animal Shelter

Terrier puppy

When you adopt a pet at your local animal shelter, be prepared to fill out a pet adoption form before you're accepted as a potential pet parent. The animal shelter will ask you questions about your family, if you already have pets and what kind of living conditions you can provide. Don't become offended. The shelter just wants to ensure their pets are guaranteed a safe and loving home.

The shelter may have conditions on adopting out a pet to a family with too many pets already living at home, or if they believe the pet may not be a right fit with young children. They may also want to know if you are settled into a home without plans to move frequently, and if you have a fenced yard or a kennel to safeguard the pet when outdoors. The shelter is looking out for the welfare of the pets in their care when they ask these questions, so answer honestly. Let them know if you have prior experience with animals.

Pet adoption isn't the easiest thing you'll ever do, but it's one of the most gratifying.

Tip #8: Top 5 Reasons to Adopt a Dog

Whether you're thinking about adopting a puppy or an adult dog, here are some reasons that may sway you to head to your local animal shelter:

  • Grown dogs usually don't need to be housetrained, which is a BIG timesaver!
  • Dogs need exercise, and that means you'll get more exercise, too. Walking your dog is a great way to get a daily workout and meet new friends at the dog park.
  • Did you know that pet owners are happier and live longer than people who don't own pets? That's a great reason in itself.
  • It’s true: dogs are good guardians. They provide a sense of safety, alerting you to unwanted strangers near your home, and protect you on the street.
  • When you adopt a dog you’re not just bringing a new member of the family into your home, you’re also saving a life.

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