If you and your family are looking to adopt a new pet for your home, you’re likely going to start at your local pet shelter. Some people can be a bit surprised when they get to the shelter and find out that pet adoption has more steps than just choosing the pet that’s right for you and taking it home. Before you head to the shelter, be sure you know what you need to do and have before you adopt! Adopt a pet!

How to adopt a shelter pet

  • Talk to the people at the shelter – The people at the shelter are the ones who have spent the most time with each individual animal and know their personalities. Before you adopt talk with the people who take care of the animals about your family and lifestyle. Do you like to do outdoors activities or are you more homebodies? Do you have small children or other pets in the house? These people can help guide you to the pets best suited to your family’s lifestyle making the bonding process a breeze for both your family and the new pet!
  • Don’t rush! – Just because you’ve decided to get a pet doesn’t mean that you have to leave with one on your first trip to a shelter. Spend time with the pets you are considering and get to know them. Some shelters will let you take dogs on a walk and spend some one-on-one or family time with the pet you are considering.
  • Bring your paperwork – Shelters like to make sure that when someone comes to adopt a pet they are doing so with the best intentions for the animal and are prepared for the commitment. Make sure to have a photo ID with you and your current address. If you’re a renter, some shelters may require that you have a copy of your lease agreement or written permission from your landlord that you are allowed to have pets. These precautions help ensure that the pet is moving into a lasting and stable environment instead of an impulse adoption that will end up on their doorstep in a week or two again.
  • Bring Money – Shelters are not a free place to adopt a pet. They have to cover the expenses associated with operating, and some shelters will spay/neuter, and vaccinate the pets when they first come in. Be sure that you are prepared for the expense required bringing your pet home.
  • Ask for your new pets medical history – While some shelters will spay/neuter or vaccinate pets, not all do. Make sure you know what medical treatment your pet has had, and what services it may need. It’s often best to plan on a vet check-up shortly after you adopt regardless of your pets known history.

Why should you adopt a pet instead of buying a new one from a breeder or pet shop? Pet shelters are often overwhelmed with abandoned pets missing their homes and a loving family. Breeders breed pets to meet demand while shelters try to find homes for already existing pets in need of love.


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