So you have decided to adopt a dog or cat from a shelter, and after weeks of browsing the pets available for adoption, have finally located the pet of your dreams? Congratulations on rescuing a pet in need of a loving home, possibly even saving that pet’s life. The steps necessary to adopt a pet from a rescue or shelter can sometimes seem strict, but don’t give up! These forms, reference checks and procedures are in place to ensure a pet goes to an appropriate, loving home and doesn’t end up back in a shelter again because of a poor match. However, there are steps you can take to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible.
If you have located your prospective new pet online, your first step is to meet the dog or cat in person to make sure this is the right match for you, your family and the pet. If the dog or cat is in a shelter, the visiting hours are usually posted online. Many shelters have an area or small room for you to get acquainted with the pet. Try to plan your visit for a time when the shelter is less likely to be very busy, so you’ll have plenty of time to quietly observe and interact with the pet. If the pet is in foster care, you will need to make arrangements for a mutually agreed-upon time to meet. If you need more time to think about your decision, be sure to let the shelter or rescue know of your interest; many shelters will allow you to place a 24 hour hold on a prospective adoptee so you can think about your decision overnight.
Once you have decided this is the pet for you, you will need to complete an adoption application. The detail required for the application varies greatly between organizations. In addition to your basic information such as name, address and phone number, be prepared to provide references, information about your home environment, and your history as a pet owner. Additionally, many rescue organizations will want to know information such as whether the dog or cat will be kept outdoors or indoors, if you have other pets, and the name and contact information for your veterinarian. Some rescue groups also require an actual home visit before approving the adoption. While some of these steps can seem intrusive, remember that they are only looking out for the best interest of the pet.
Once the adoption application has been completed and approved, you will need to pay the adoption fee which also varies between different organizations. If you feel the adoption fee is high, remember that this fee usually covers the cost of spaying/neutering, vaccinations, flea treatments, heartworm prevention, possibly a microchip, as well as subsidizing the expense of caring for the pet until he or she is adopted. The adoption fee is usually a fraction of the cost to purchase a pet from a breeder or pet store. If the dog or cat has not yet been spayed or neutered, this procedure must be completed before most shelters or rescues will allow you to bring your new pet home.
Some of the most lovable and wonderful dogs and cats can be found in shelters and through rescue organizations. When you adopt from a shelter, you not only save that pet’s life, but it provides an opening at the shelter to accept another homeless pet in need.