If you’ve decided to adopt a furry, four-legged friend from a dog pound or shelter, good on you! Millions of homeless pets could really use a good home rather than living out their lives in a shelter… or worse. Rescuing a pet dog, cat, kitten, or puppy from an animal shelter gives that pet a chance to live a full and happy life, showered in love and enjoyable experiences with a family of its own.
Even if you are set on a certain age – like a young puppy – or a certain breed of dog – your chances of finding the right pet for you and your family are still fairly good if you are willing to put in the effort. My husband and I recently adopted a puppy from an animal rescue on the other side of the country. I had originally been looking at breeders in our area and within a few hours of a drive, as I knew I wanted to get a young puppy in a particular breed. (I wanted a border collie!) I did extensive research on Petfinder.com and found a border collie mix that is the perfect puppy ever, and she has the spitting image of a border collie, even though she is half Australian shepherd.
If you choose to adopt a pet from a pound or animal shelter, it’s always a good idea to get your new pet checked out at the vet, and make sure they are up-to-date on any shots. Here are some additional tips for adopting your pet from a shelter.
1. If you can’t find the perfect pet at a rescue location near you, look online. Countless dogs and cats (and other animals too!) need good homes, and thanks to today’s technology, you can see their cute mugs online, and then call or email for more information.
2. Look far and wide. If you fall in love with a pet that is out of driving distance, some shelters will still allow you to adopt out of state if you are willing to pay for the transportation costs.
3. Don’t give up if you can’t afford to transport your new pet. Some animal rescue groups offer ground transportation services from shelters several states away or farther. Breed rescues very commonly do this.
4. Check the pet’s health right away. Once you’ve adopted your pet, schedule a vet appointment for a standard check-up and to get any shots that may be needed.
5. If you get your pet from a shelter with common areas for the dogs, be aware that your dog might have a chance of catching Parvovirus if not fully vaccinated. Talk to your vet about this possibility and whether a diagnostic test is a good idea for peace of mind. (Parvo is often fatal in dogs if not detected and treated early, and my puppy did have it, so I am a strong advocate for being on the safe side.) Also, if your pet begins acting very sick (throwing up and diarrhea), you should rush to the vet stat.
6. Schedule your pet’s next round of shots while you are at the vet. Keep your new puppy or kitty up-to-date on all boosters.
7. Ask questions about your pet’s health and lifestyle. Talk to your vet about diet, exercise, socializing your new pet, and any other burning questions that come to mind.
8. Shower your new pet with unconditional love and affection!
Best wishes with your furry new family member!