Thinking about adding a pet to your household? Why not consider adopting from a shelter? Shelters and rescues are filled with animals waiting to be adopted. Dogs and cats of all ages, sizes, and breeds—purebred and mixed—can be found in shelters.

Dog paw on top of hands.

Choosing the right breed

The characteristics of different species and breeds can vary widely. Before you adopt, you should consider:

  • Dog or cat — Which is better suited for your lifestyle? Dogs require more exercise and training than cats. If you have time for daily walks and house training, a dog will be a trusty sidekick. However, if you aren’t home much and want a quiet companion, a cat may be the way to go.
  • Exercise requirements — Different breeds of dogs have varying activity levels. Border collies have excess energy they need to burn every day, while a greyhound will be happy to spend most of the day snoozing on the couch.
  • Grooming needs — Long-haired dogs and cats need to be brushed every few days to avoid mats, but short-haired breeds require only occasional grooming. Breeds like Yorkshire terriers and schnauzers have hair that grows continuously, so they require professional grooming on a regular basis.
  • Size — A Great Dane obviously takes up more space than a Chihuahua, but large crates, dog beds, and other pet equipment also take up more room in your home. What size pet can your living space accommodate?

Searching for the perfect pet

Perhaps you want to wander the rows of furry faces and wait for the perfect pet to catch your eye. Or, maybe you’re searching for a specific type of pet. Either way, it’s important to research different breeds before letting your heart make a decision that you may regret later. Take care to choose a breed that will fit into your family’s lifestyle, otherwise your good intentions could lead to difficult times for your family and the pet you adopt.

Online adoption sites

The chaos of barking dogs clamoring for your attention can make searching for the perfect pet in a shelter overwhelming. The good news: Most shelters now list animals online. You can browse through pictures and read about personality traits of the animals available for adoption from the comfort of your home. There are even national databases that list pets available at local shelters, such as:

After making a list of the animals you’re interested in, you can visit the shelter and ask to interact with specific dogs or cats in a quiet room. If you don’t find the pet of your dreams during your first visit, don’t be discouraged—check back often, because new animals arrive daily.

What to expect from your new pet

One challenge of adopting a shelter pet is not knowing what she experienced in her previous life. Start slow, and don’t assume she’s house trained or has good household manners. Set clear boundaries with baby gates and a crate until you know if she can be trusted to wander through your home unsupervised. Make sure that introductions to new people, especially children, happen in your presence and while your new pup is on a leash. It will take time for your new pet to gain confidence and realize that her new home with you is permanent, but once she does, her true personality will begin to shine through.

Veterinary care for your new pet

In addition to her history, you may not know anything about the previous medical care your pet received. Ask the shelter or rescue for any medical records the previous owner may have passed on as well as documentation of any vaccinations or medications she has received while at the shelter. Within a week of adoption, make an appointment with our office and bring all medical records with you. We will go through them and let you know what tests, vaccinations, or medications may be needed to ensure good health. Medical care that new pets often require includes:

  • Testing for intestinal parasites — A fecal analysis will screen for intestinal parasites in both dogs and cats. If any of these freeloaders are present, we can prescribe medication to quickly eliminate them.
  • Heartworm testing — A simple blood test can tell us if your pet has life-threatening heartworm disease.
  • Viral testing — All cats should be tested for feline leukemia (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). A quick in-office test will tell us if your new feline friend has been exposed to these dangerous diseases.
  • Vaccinations — If your new pet’s vaccine status is unknown, we will administer the proper inoculations to bring her up to date.
  • Spay/neuter — Your new pet should have been spayed or neutered before adoption. If the procedure has not been performed, call us.

Interested in adopting a shelter pet? Call us at 530-823-6306 for advice!