Pet Adoption Guidelines: Choosing a Pet

February 12th, 2013 posted by Family Corner Staff

The decision has been made to adopt a pet for you and your family. Before heading to the shelter, be sure to consider the following guidelines for choosing your new pet. Remember, you are adding a member to your family that hopefully will grow as your children do, or as your companion after the kids have moved out. Make sure you have considered all aspects.

Don’t focus only on purebred animals The appearance of being a purebred is no indication that the animal is mentally or physically superior to the mixed breed. The value of shelter animals is tied directly to the pet’s capacity to become a loving member of your family. Mixed breed pets are equally likely to be love sponges and they have one attribute that purebreds do not; mutts are one-of-a-kind. For more information about breeds, visit the specific breed’s website.

Shy or fearful

Be cautious about taking an animal that appears fearful or shy, even if the animal is more outgoing when taken to a private adoption area. The safest animal to select is one that is comfortable amidst the din of the kennel and in a quiet area.

Obvious behavioral or physical issues

Avoid taking an animal that has an obvious physical or behavioral problem. If you opt for a pet with a physical or behavioral deficit, make a phone call to your veterinarian or a behaviorist to make sure that the pet’s problem is not insurmountable.

Sympathy choices

There is a misconception that by taking a “less adoptable” pet; someone else will surely take the “more adoptable” pets. There are only so many adoptions that are going to take place, and there are far more pets than there are good homes in which to place them. If you take an animal that is unattractive, ill or older to save a life, there is a perfectly, healthy, attractive, well behaved pet that might be euthanized.

Genuinely interested

Try to find an animal that is interested in all of the people passing by the cage, not just you. Many pets display such behavior when they see someone who resembles their original owner, the very person who brought the animal to the shelter. Your resemblance may cause an instant rapport, but it may also trigger the same unacceptable behaviors that caused the original owner to give it up.

Why are they here?

Pet owners who release their pets to a shelter are not universally “bad” people. They are often forced to give up the animal due to unanticipated and unavoidable circumstances. The animal may be a wonderful pet that had the bad fortune to live with an irresponsible owner, or when the owners is confronted with the possibility that the animal could be destroyed, they may not be completely truthful about the pet’s behavior.

Ask for assistance

When you handle the animal, make sure a shelter worker or volunteer assists you. Watch the way the animal reacts to the brisk and efficient movements of the staff member. Look for any signs that the animal is hand shy or skittish. Any signs of aggression should instantly rule out the pet.

Don’t settle

Be willing to walk out the door if you do not find exactly the animal for which you are looking. The advantage of an animal shelter is that it has a high volume of pets. Over a period of time you will have the opportunity to see many animals before you make your decision.

“Free to good home”

Occasionally, a potential adopter will see an animal on its way into the shelter and decide to circumvent the shelter process. While there is no law that prevents you from merely taking the animal from its owner, you are accepting a real risk. The owner would dearly love to hand the pet over to you rather than surrender it to a shelter. If the owner is less than truthful about the pet’s temperament or health, you have just volunteered to accept responsibility for any potential problems. Adopting a pet from a shelter is an important decision and should be given all the consideration that any serious decision deserves. It should be considered a long term commitment. A few simple precautions and common sense will help insure that you select a pet that can become a happy family member for years to come.

Family Corner Staff (674 Posts)

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Cindy Rowe
Cindy Rowe (7 Posts)

Cindy Rowe is the owner/editor of Crazylou Creations blog. On the blog, you will find a little bit of crazy, and a whole lot of fun! As a FT working mother, she still finds time to create crafts, play around in the kitchen, plan parties and exercise. You'll find all of this and more on her blog!

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