Pet Adoption 101

Welcoming an adopted pet into your family is a wonderful and heartwarming experience. But to make sure that the experience has a happy ending for everyone involved, it’s important to know what you are getting into so you are fully prepared for the commitment of adopting a pet.

Make sure you’re ready

Are you ready for a pet? Adopting a dog, cat, or bunny is a 10-20 year commitment.

  • Do you have the time to commit to a pet? Bored or under-stimulated pets can develop bad habits; can you dedicate time every day to exercising your pet physically and mentally?
  • Are you prepared to cover all the expenses related to pet ownership and/or pet insurance?
  • Do you have a support system to help look after your pet if you get sick or go on vacation?
  • Is your yard fenced, or are parts of your house not safe for a pet?
  • Does everyone in your family want a pet and want to help care for it? Does anyone have allergies to a pet? Have the discussion with your family and make sure everyone is on board.

What kind of pet?

Once you know you are ready for a pet, you can start thinking about exactly what type of pet would fit into your family. Research types and breeds and think about what size, personality, activity level and type of coat would best suit your family. If you need a pet to have certain definite characteristics (like a coat that sheds less, or a pet that only grows to a certain size) you may need to look at certain breeds only. There are mixed-breeds and pure-breeds alike looking for homes, and many national breed clubs support their own rescue program. Here are some types of pets that you might not immediately think of:

  • Seniors – Puppies might have the cuteness market cornered, but adopting an older pet has many advantages. Senior pets usually come with good manners and are house trained. If you are less active and prefer quiet time around the house, a senior pet would be a wonderful companion as they need less exercise than younger pets. Though their adoption fees are often reduced, it’s worth noting that the first and final years of a pet’s life often bring the highest medical expenses.
  • Black pets – Did you know that black pets may have a harder time being adopted? This may be because of superstitions (black cats bring bad luck) or because they don’t photograph as easily as lighter pets. In any case, they are worth a second look.
  • Pets with medical conditions – Pets with special needs are looking for homes too. Some might require daily medication or regular visits to the vet or physiotherapist. Tri-pod pets (cats or dogs with only three legs) often get around just as well as their four-legged friends. Welcoming a pet with special needs into your family can be a wonderfully fulfilling experience.
  • Think Small – Small pets often needs homes too. Many shelters take in Hamsters, Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, Reptiles and other small pets. Adopted pets are great for younger children as they have already been socialized and may be more accustomed to being held and petted.

Finding the right rescue

There is a reason we call it ‘adopting’ a pet; finding your new furry family member is a lot more complicated than picking out a new couch. Whether you work with a rescue group, shelter, or humane society you should expect to undergo an application process.

It’s important that you and your rescue group are comfortable with each other. If you don’t feel comfortable with some of their policies or practices, consider looking around at other groups. Likewise, you might find you aren’t the right fit for a rescue. Parts of your application may be a deal-breaker to some rescues (like working long hours or not having access to a fenced yard) but other rescues may be more flexible.  Finding the right fit is important because you can become a resource to each other during your pet’s life.

Preparing for your new pet

Once you have decided to adopt and are undergoing the application process, you can start to prepare for your new arrival. Ask your pet parent friends to recommend a local vet, trainer and groomer. Discuss the cost of services with each to make sure you financially prepared for your new family member. Many rescue groups will spay/neuter and vaccinate the pets in their care, but you will have to take your pet for annual check-ups and addressing any other issues that may arise. Even if you’re adopting an older dog, training is a great way to bond and set some boundaries with each other.

When your application is approved you can start purchasing food and supplies. The Pet Experts at Paulmac’s Pets can help recommend food, the basic supplies you will need (a crate, bed, bowls, and more) and what treats and toys your pet might enjoy.

When the day comes to pick up your new pet, ask the foster parent or shelter if they would be willing to provide you with a sample of the pet’s current food and a toy or blanket that you can return in a few weeks (or donate a new one in its stead). Bring a collar, leash and carrier or crate that can be secured in the car. You might also considering giving your pet calming supplements or treats for the first few days to help ease the transition.

Once you get your pet home, clear your schedule for a few days while establishing your new routine. Above all, enjoy getting to know your new furry family member.

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