Pet Adoption: What to Know When Adopting a Cat or Dog from a Shelter
Petside's Advisory Board sheds light on some questions you should ask when adopting a pet from a shelter!
Pet adoption is a big decision to make. With so much involved in such a big decision in one's life, it isn't difficult to find yourself overwhelmed, not knowing what you should ask before you take a pet in. With this in mind, we asked the Petside Advisory Board for advice on what questions one should consider asking before they move to adopt a dog or cat from an animal shelter. Here's what they had to say:
When adopting a pet from a shelter, the best way to start the conversation is by telling the shelter staff most familiar with the animals about your own lifestyle, and by inquiring which pets at the facility fit that lifestyle best. The adopter should picture in his or her mind how he would like the pet to be involved in their life, and ask the questions accordingly, trying to avoid an animal's appearance as the primary reason for selecting a pet. So, questions like: "Do you have dogs (or cats) that you think would be good with young children?", "I like to run 5 miles a day with a dog, do you have any that are capable of doing that with me?", or "Do you have any dogs or cats that are OK with me not being around eight hours a day while I work?", etc., might work. Of course, some of the more obvious questions you should ask when adopting a pet are: "Has the animal ever bitten?", "What kind of environment did the animal live in before coming to the shelter?", or "Does the animal have any behavioral or medical issues that I should be concerned about?" Ask to talk to the behaviorist or trainer should you have questions that you feel are not being answered by the regular staff.
The first question you need to ask yourself is, are you ready to make a 15-16 year commitment? Then you should solicit from the shelter employee what type of pet would work best for you and your family's lifestyle. It might be important to ask how the organization received the pet, was there any history about the pet's previous living condition, behavior with children, behavior with other pets, etc, and, of course, is the pet spayed or neutered, up to date on vaccinations, and are there any existing medical conditions that the facility knows of.
You should ask whether the pet is spayed or neutered. You should also ask if the pet has a history of any health issues. You'd also like to know where the pet came from, what medical treatment, if the animal needs any, might be covered by the shelter, and whether the animal you're adopting needs to undergo specific treatment at any particular facility.
Try to get as much background information about the pet as possible, including the reason for surrender (was it an owner relinquishment or found as a stray?), and how long the dog or cat has been in the shelter. Ask if the dog has been temperament tested, and to what degree. (Was the dog tested with other dogs? Children? Cats? Food?) Find out if the animal has been paired with a specific volunteer, who might have more information about the dog's energy level and prior training. And finally, ask about the pet's health checks and vaccinations since entering the shelter.
What questions would you ask before adopting a dog or cat from a shelter? Share in a comment.