“Oh my gosh! Look at that one!” If you’re like me, you’ve heard this thousands of times at animal shelters. And does it surprise you? It doesn’t surprise me. Actually, it doesn’t surprise me one little bit. When your family makes the decision to bring another animal member into the home, it’s a big deal. Like, a super huge deal. It’s not a “well, we thought you’d work but you didn’t” kind of thing. It’s not a “change your mind” thing. It’s a life-time (of the pet) commitment.
(By the way, we totally get that circumstances and situations change, and sometimes, it’s necessary (and the best thing for both the people and the pet) to surrender animals.) This aside, it’s so very important that when you’re adopting, you adopt because of the animal’s personality. Not because of their cuteness.
The most important thing when adopting, is being absolutely sure that the animal you’re bringing into your home will be a fit for your family and for your lifestyle. If you work a job with long hours, an animal struggling with separation anxiety may not be a fit for you. If you’re a family with a really high energy level, a “likes to be left alone” pet probably wouldn’t be perfect. These are all things to consider. So, what are the absolute “must do’s” before adoption? If you’re overwhelmed, start here; it’s gonna help:
- Ask for an assessment of behavior and health if one isn’t provided. Behavior and health are two areas where you absolutely need knowledge of the animal before making the decision to adopt.
- Make note of the animal’s energy level. If energy level of the pet parent’s household doesn’t match that of the pet, the adoption often will not work out. Do you live in a small urban area? Do you have a big family and plenty of space? Take these things into consideration. An apartment in the city probably isn’t going to be best for a dog who NEEDS to run a lot. And daily. How does the potential adoptive animal interact with handlers at the shelter?
- Find out as much as you can about the animal’s history. How long has the dog been at the shelter? Did the dog arrive as a stray? Was the dog surrendered by a previous owner? If so, why?
- How does the prospective animal socialize with humans and other animals? Cautious? Aggressive? Friendly? First impressions will give you a good idea of how the animal will react to an unfamiliar situation.
- How old is the animal? Younger animals, usually, will require more training and socialization. Older animals tend to have lower energy levels and are often already trained. So, if your family is lower energy, a senior may be a good option. Keep in mind, though, that older animals are more likely to run into health problems, so before committing to adopting, make sure you’re also committed financially.
- Figure out for sure if you’re in an ideal situation for a pet. Even if you want to adopt a pet, it doesn’t always mean you’re ready. Sit down and ask yourself if you have the money, the time and the commitment. If you’re questioning and find yourself backing down from the challenge, it may not be the right time. And that’s okay! Re-evaluate in the future. Animals deserve furever homes, and this means the pet parents need to be 100% confident that they’re ready.
We understand how easy it is to fall in love with the littlest rabbit, the most gorgeous guinea, the cutest chin. The “I have total puppy eyes” dog. The kitten with the sweetest meow. But hold your ground and talk some sense into yourself. Animals require so much. They need to be a fit in your household. And just because they’re cute (which is a total plus, BTW (and it’s my opinion that ALL animals are just absolutely gorgeous in their own way)), doesn’t mean they’re going to be a fit. Learn about the animal. Know their behavior. Know their temperament. Know their energy. Know their history. The more you know, the more likely the adoption will be a successful one. And the more likely your family will have a new BFF for life.
All pets deserve this.