A Helpful Guide to Pet Adoption

A Helpful Guide to Pet Adoption

Pet Adoption guide

Seeing the face of an animal in need of a home definitely tugs at the heartstrings. While adopting a pet is an excellent option for someone interested in getting a dog or cat, it is also a decision that requires careful consideration. In the majority of adoption cases, people have the best of intentions but without understanding the process and potential challenges, some animals are returned to the shelter.

Considerations for the Home

If thinking about pet adoption, we recommend that you first talk to other members of the family to see how they feel but to also consider special circumstances. For example, if someone in the home has allergies, choosing the right dog or cat becomes even more important. In addition, if small children or elderly live in the home, you want to choose an animal with the right temperament.

Part of the discussion with the family should focus on the care of the animal. It should never be assumed that one person will be responsible for the feeding, watering, exercising, walking, and grooming tasks. Of course, there is also the issue of training. Even if you decide on an older dog, basic obedience commands should be taught. Again, it is important to determine who will take the lead for daily care but also training.

Remember, every individual and family has a unique lifestyle. When it comes to adopting a pet, this also needs to be factored in. Before choosing just any animal, you want to consider the amount of time the dog or cat will be alone, the degree of play and exercise the animal will need, and even the noise and activity level within the home.

Even if children will not have responsibility for the animal on a daily basis, it is still critical to teach responsibility. This is important for all households but especially if you have never owned a cat or dog before. Children need to be taught to keep doors and/or gates closed to prevent escape, the correct way to pick up and hold the animal, how to choose proper toys, not giving scraps from the table, and overall, being respectful of the adopted pet.

Getting Prepared

Once a decision has been made to adopt a pet, the next step involves choosing the right type and breed of animal. From there, you want to conduct research on various breeds to include temperament, activity level, potential health risks, life span, grooming needs, and so on. Of course, the home environment will also be a determining factor. For instance, if you live in a high-rise apartment, adopting a small breed dog will be a much better decision than going with a large dog.

Something else to think about is the animal’s previous history, age, and current health. While many people prefer adopting an animal that had a rough start in life, an older pet, or one with a disability, not everyone does. Therefore, you need to decide on the challenges that you and the family are willing and capable of dealing with. After identifying the animal that will work best, you want to get the home prepared. For this, you will need the following:

  •   Area within the home for the crate or bed
  •   A well-made crate of hard plastic or hypoallergenic bed
  •   Food and water bowls
  •   High-quality food and treats
  •   Collar and leash
  •   Safe toys
  •   Tags inscribed with the pet’s name, as well as your address and phone number
  •   Training pads if adopting a puppy
  •   Litter box and filler if adopting a cat


You also want to choose a reputable veterinarian. If you have never owned an animal before or if it has been quite some time, you can always ask other family members, friends, neighbors, and coworkers for recommendations. Another option is by going through the Chamber of Commerce where you live or checking with the American Veterinarian Medical Association, National Veterinary Association, or National Association of Veterinary Technicians.

One last step is to choose the place where the dog or cat will be adopted from. Keep in mind there are multiple options to include the Humane Society and local city pound. However, pets up for adoption can also be found at some veterinarian clinics, through pet fairs held at pet supply stores, and through private parties. Of course, the goal in all cases is to choose a legitimate business or individual and then, get as much information about the animal possible.

Bringing your Pet Home

No matter the type, breed, age, or health condition of the pet you adopt, the animal is going to need a few days to adjust to its new home. Most animals go through a brief period of feeling confused and even scared so it is imperative to have everyone and everything ready. Initially, allow the animal to roam the house, which will help it acclimate.

In addition, while everyone wants to hold, pet, and play with the adopted animal, we suggest backing off a little for a day or two. There is also a good chance the animal will have a few accidents indoors caused by stress. It is important to discipline but with patience and love. Expecting too much immediately after bringing a new cat or dog home can lead to long-term problems.

Some other tips for bringing an adopted pet home include the following:

    •  Make sure the home is animal proofed to include keeping dangerous household cleaners in a closed cabinet, taping electrical        cords to the baseboard, setting plants out-of-reach, placing breakable items out of the way, and putting up baby gates to block off rooms considered off-limit
    •  Immediately after arriving home, take the dog outside or for a cat, show it where the litter box is located
    • Post a feeding schedule to make sure the animal is not fed multiple times by different family members
    •  Be prepared to provide any required training. If you adopt a puppy, the first lesson will be potty training. However, it usually takes several weeks for an animal’s true colors to show at which time you will have a much better understanding of actual training needs. 
    •  Even if the pet has current shots and was recently seen by a veterinarian, we recommend that you take the cat or dog to your own vet within the first week of being adopted

Finally, while many adopted animals adjust extremely well, some can display unwanted behavioral issues. If you find your adopted cat or dog has a problem with anxiety, aggression, fear, or something else, rather than return it, talk to your veterinarian. In the majority of cases, there are viable solutions that will correct the problem, thereby allowing the animal to become a beloved member of the family.


adopt a cat



Visit Petfinder.com to find your new buddy.

Local Shelters can be found on our shelter map!

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