So you’re thinking about adopting a new pet. First off, THANK YOU! Adopting a pet gives your next furry friend a second chance at life. It also helps free up a spot at the shelter, allowing them to save another pet. You’re really helping to save two lives! You’re helping to promote #adoptdontshop, putting an end to the overpopulation of pets and reducing the need for euthanization.
I could spend all day talking about the benefits of adoption and why you should #adoptdontshop, but that’s a blog post for another time. Adopting a pet is a lifetime commitment that, unfortunately, many are not prepared for. So, before you adopt your next best furiend (see what I did there?), here are eight things you need to know – and must be prepared for!
Pick a pet that fits your lifestyle
Not all animals (or breeds) are the same. Take a look at your current lifestyle and see what pet would best fit. Don’t have easy access to the outdoors? Consider adopting a cat rather than dog. Are you very active? Consider a more active dog breed that can run right alongside you. Some key considerations:
- How much time each day can you devote to training and activities?
- What kind of home do you have? Apartment, house with a fenced in yard, etc.?
- Do you live in a city or do you have more land?
- How long will your pet be alone each day?
- Do you have children? Do you have other pets?
Make sure you're financially prepared
Yes, pets are cute and snuggly and sweet. But they can be expensive too – especially when young. Make sure you’re financially prepared for the initial adoption fee (which can range from $10 to a couple hundred dollars, depending on the rescue).
Also, be prepared for what comes next. You need the household items such as leash, collar, dog bed, crate, food, toys etc. You need the flea & tick and heartworm medicine. Be prepared for vet visits. Yes, the usual yearly exam and booster shots, but puppies can get into everything. Make sure you’re prepared for some unexpected vet visits. I highly recommend getting pet insurance – just in case!
Research the shelter or rescue
Once you know what type of pet you’re looking for and know you’re financially prepared, start checking out some local rescues and shelters. I recommend starting at AdoptAPet.com so you can find rescues and shelters in your area, and check out who’s available. Beyond that, do some research on the rescue and shelter itself. Check out their social media pages, see what people have commented, make sure they have good reviews. While we all hope it’s a reputable rescue that cares for the animal’s well-being, sometimes that is not the case. Make sure there aren’t any red flags before you go any further!
Be ready before you pick them up
Just as you have to be financially ready, make sure all your ducks are in a row before you pick up your new pet! Puppy-proof your home so your new mischievous pup can’t get into anything they shouldn’t. Have the leash and collar ready, have the pet food picked out. Make sure you have a vet lined up that you’ll take the pet to for their first check-up (often within the first two weeks of adopting). Decide beforehand if you’ll be crate training and if so, have that crate in its place!
Moral of the story is to have everything you’ll need before you even bring the pet home.
Know that rescue pets aren't broken
When I tell people I volunteer at a shelter, too often they think it’s where “unwanted” or “troubled” pets go. The truth is, rescue pets aren’t broken. They’ve just been dealt a tough first hand. Being at a shelter gives them a second chance at life – a chance to find the purrfect furever home.
Don’t let the idea of a pet coming from a shelter or rescue stop you from adopting. Honestly, you’ll feel even better about your decision knowing that you saved a life!
Give the pet time to adjust
Once your pet is home, make sure you give them time to adjust. Think about it: you’re bringing a pet into a new house they’ve never been in, with all new sights and smells. There are new rules that they haven’t had to follow before, new people and sometimes new pets. Don’t give up on them. Give them their time to decompress and be comfortable with their new home. This could take a couple days, a couple weeks, a couple months or even years. Be patient and understanding and know that they are in the perfect animal-loving hands.
Introductions will take some time
In a perfect world, you would bring your new pet home and everyone (pets AND humans) would get along just great. This isn’t how it always happens, however. Just as you need to give your pet time to adjust, you need to give them time to be introduced to all members of the family. Most rescues and shelters require all members of the family (pets included) meet the new pet before you’re approved and before taking them home. This is for the safety of your family and of the new pet.
Once your pet is home, make sure you give them time to truly become a member of the family. Introductions (hopefully) went great at the shelter, so once you bring the new pet home make sure you continue the positive introductions and interactions – like when meeting extended family and friends.
Your life will change forever - for the better
My life changed for the better the day I brought Roxanne home. Yes, I’m busier than before. I spend more time at home (because who could leave such a perfect angel?) I’m more paranoid than before and spend more money than I may have before. Despite all this, I wouldn’t change my decision to #adoptdontshop for the world!
What advice would you give someone who is considering adopting a new best friend? Leave a comment below!