So, you are ready to adopt, not shop. Congratulations! All you have to do now is visit some shelters or rescues and bring home your new 4-legged bundle of joy, right? Hmm, not so fast. Adopting from a shelter is not as simple as seeing the furball in the window and bringing them home. Shelters and rescues go through a LOT of background work to ensure that you and your new pet are a good match. And for good reason! Far too many pets are returned to the shelter for many different reasons. This puts a LOT of stress and strain on already traumatized animals. Also, shelters and rescues want to make sure that when families bring home a new pet, that pet is there to stay.
Here are some of the things you may have to undergo before bringing home Fluffy.
- Background checks: Shelters and rescues want to make sure new pet owners are financially capable of caring for the pet. Pets are a lifetime commitment, and vets visits, food, bedding, etc., can get pricey.
- Interviews: one-on-one interviews allow pet care teams to better understand what you are looking for in a pet and perhaps can better match you with your new best friend. It's very easy to get caught up on color, breed, or age… but the people who work at the shelters get to know these pet personalities very well and may suggest a pet you overlooked.
- Meet and greets: Spending some time in a quiet, enclosed room in the shelter with your potential new pet is very important. It can give the adoptee a chance to see how the animal reacts to new people if they are playful, shy, scared, or overly excitable. It may not be the same as how they respond in the adoptee's own house. Still, it is a good indicator of their overall personality. Everyone in the family must be involved with the meet and greet, whether they are children or other pets. After all, this will be a family pet, and you want to make sure every family member will get along.
- House visit: pet care teams may want to tour where your new pet will live or at least be provided with detailed housing specifics. This ensures that the pet will be moving to a safe and healthy place with all the requirements they may need.
- Adoption forms: Filling out these lengthy and detailed forms can be frustrating. Still, the paperwork provides crucial information to rescues or shelters.
This all may seem overkill to some who are anxious to bring home their new best friend, but requirements like these are essential to ensure a happy home where the pet can thrive. As mentioned, far too often, pets get returned to the shelter because:
- personalities don't mesh,
- housing situations are not ideal, or
- the adoptee was unfamiliar with the pet's care and was unwilling or unable to provide it.
Some pets wait a VERY long time to be adopted. Bringing them into your home only to return them to the shelter is traumatic and can permanently scar them emotionally. Not to mention it is heartbreaking and frustrating for adoptees. Shelters and rescues do everything they can to prevent this from happening.
Another facet to consider is the rescue or shelter itself. Lately, shelters have found themselves short-staffed since COVID hit. Fewer staff members can mean longer wait times and a lengthier adoption process. Be patient; they are doing their best to make sure you and your perfect pet find each other!
With careful research and proper planning to ensure you, your home, and your bank account can properly accommodate a pet and a bit of patience, soon you will be welcoming a new furever family member into your home! If you adopt, don’t shop, it might take a little longer than popping in a pet store, but you’ll enjoy a long, happy relationship with your “new to you” scaly, furry, or feathered friend.
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