Adopting a pet from a local shelter or rescue group can be a wonderful event, both for you and for your pet. Four of our seven permanent dogs are adopted from shelters and rescue groups. We also adopt and place in new homes, about that number annually. Here are five things to ask the shelter or rescue group up front to make sure your new pet will fit into your family.
1. Why was the pet relinquished? You need to gain information on why the pet is up for adoption. It might be due to a behavior problem, which if you are unable or unwilling to correct will result in an unhappy situation for you. Know the facts, and then you can make an informed decision and prepare to deal with the circumstances. Most behavior problems can be corrected, but you need to be prepared to deal with the problem up front. Most all pet behavior problems are due to our lack of knowledge, but may take time and certainly an insight into how to correct improper behavior.
2. Does the pet have any medical problems? Adopting pets with medical problems is fine, if you know the facts and make an informed adoption decision. Questions to ask: What medical problems does the pet have, if any? Are they long-term or lifetime problems that I have to treat? How much will it cost to continue treatment? Is the condition contagious to other pets or humans? What special needs do they have? For instance, my wife and I have adopted two pets that were paralyzed in the rear legs due to slipped disc. We bought them carts to ambulate and the care was intense and costly at times, but our rewards were worth the cost.
3. How old is the pet? There is nothing wrong with adopting an older pet, you just need to know the facts. There can be medical issues with older pets, and older pets are oftentimes “set in their ways” and may take special accommodation. An older pet with arthritis, for instance, is not good with young children who lean, push, prod and lay on pets. Someone who likes to take long walks should not adopt an older dog with arthritis or a heart condition. Certainly the veterinary care will be more costly on older pets, but then you don’t have to go through the puppy/kitten problems.
4. Is the pet good around children and other pets? Seems like a “no brainer” question, but you would be surprised how many adoption decisions are made on the spur of the moment. The pet is taken home, only to find out it will not adjust to children or other pets. Some large dogs, simply will not tolerate a small dog. Cats take longer to accept other new cats and some dogs and cats have had bad experiences with children and will not tolerate them. It is better to know before adoption than risk your child or small pet to a possibly nasty, but normal reaction from a fearful pet.
5. What is your return policy, should the adoption not work satisfactorily? Unfortunately, not all adoptions work out for many reasons. Asking the right questions is paramount to starting off right with your pet, and knowing your limitations for caring for a pet will prevent relinquishment.
Why miss out on the many positive benefits that pets provide us. Do yourself a favor and save a pet by adopting from a shelter or rescue group.