Pet Adoption: Important Questions to Ask Before Adopting a Pet

by Bruce W. Little, DVM


Animal Shelters, Adoption Centers & Rescue Organizations

Family pets can be procured from several sources including purchasing a pet from a pet store or a private breeder. One can also adopt a pet from an animal shelter, pet adoption center or rescue organization. Families who choose to add a pet are well advised to first seek out a perfect match from a local animal shelter or pet adoption center. Historically, animal shelters have been given a bad reputation in the discussion of where to find the perfect pet. Those myths are dated and have been largely dispelled at most municipal government animal shelters, foundation supported shelters and adoption centers. Many shelters today have full time veterinary services, so pets are examined and receive the necessary treatments as soon as they are admitted to the shelters and before the adoption process begins. There is usually a 3 to 4 day waiting period to check the health, disposition and adoptability of a specific animal before it is placed up for adoption. This is a standard procedure unless a pet is brought in by his or her owner to be put up for adoption. Typically, animals must be given vaccinations, be cleaned, groomed and spayed or neutered before they are allowed to be taken from the shelter for adoption. Additionally, most shelters require an identification microchip be inserted under the skin as a form of permanent identification. It’s possible to place a “hold” on a specific pet, while he or she undergoes the necessary preparations for adoption. Of course, payment for adoption fees must be settled before the animal is taken from the adoption center.

Before adopting a pet from any of the above mentioned sources, the adopter must determine what type of dog, cat or other pet would best suit his or her lifestyle. Pets are an important part of the American household. The family pet owning experience will be most enjoyable if you carefully consider adopting a pet that best suits your family, home and lifestyle. The primary reason many pets are given up to animal shelters, adoption centers and rescue organizations is a pet owner’s unfulfilled expectations. It’s very important to make informed decisions by including everyone in the family on the pet choice. Puppies require additional time for house training, socialization and obedience training. They also require more frequent feeding, exercise and supervision. Every pet adopter should consider adopting an adult animal that is often already house trained and knows some basic commands. These more mature pets usually adapt very well to their new home and family. This may hold true especially if the pet adopters are senior citizens themselves.

Before adopting a pet, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Who will be responsible for the care of the pet?

2. Will your living quarters work best for a large pet or a small cuddly pet?

3. Can you afford to care for a pet, which includes costs for food, shelter, veterinary services, grooming and licensing?

All of these questions should be taken into consideration before making a final decision on adopting. Further, the breed of a dog or cat can determine the level of brushing or grooming required to maintain healthy skin and coat. Some dogs and cats shed more than others, so you have to be prepared to find their hair on your furniture and clothes. If this is a potential issue for you then perhaps a smooth haired pet that sheds less would work best in your family. Adopting pets that are not compatible with your lifestyle does not benefit you or the pet.

National statistics on euthanasia of dogs and cats are difficult to pinpoint, because animal care and control agencies are not required to keep statistics on the number of animals taken in, adopted, euthanized or reclaimed. However, millions of dogs and cats are euthanized annually in animal shelters, adoption centers and rescue organizations across America. Many of these pets are at these organizations due to health issues. Euthanasia is often performed as a humane gesture. Some pets are there because they are not trainable or too aggressive to be included in a family setting, but most pets are there because their owners were not ready to accept the responsibilities of pet ownership. It’s very important to be sure you want a pet added to the family before adopting, and then to choose the appropriate pet for your family’s lifestyle. If the proper decisions are made then there are many benefits of pet ownership. It should be a long-lasting and beautiful relationship for the entire family, including the newly added pet.