Tips to help with a successful adoption

If you’re thinking of getting a new dog or cat, adopting from a local animal shelter can be a great option. However, just as when buying a pet from a breeder, the quality of the source matters, as does the personality of the animal. Here are some tips for choosing a loving pet from a reputable shelter that should help you find the perfect companion.

Check the Web

The first place to start looking for your new pet is online. Many shelters now have websites where you can view pictures of adoptable pets and even search for specific breeds that you may be interested in. However, you should take these listings with a grain of salt, especially if you notice all the pets have very similar descriptions. Many animal shelters are understaffed and may not have time to really evaluate each pet and write an individualized description. No matter what the online description says or how cute the photo is, try not to fall in love until you meet the pet in person.

Check Out the Shelter

Before you visit a shelter to look at pets, find out a little bit about their policies. How much do they charge for adoptions? Do they allow you to bring in any current pets to check for compatibility? Will they let you bring the pet back if it doesn’t work out?

Once you find a shelter that has reasonable policies, you should visit in person. Don’t be fooled by the condition of the shelter’s building. Instead, pay attention to cleanliness and how the staff treats the animals. It’s better to get a pet from a run-down but clean building where the staff really care than from a brand new shelter where pets are neglected.

Keep an Open Mind

You may think you know what breed or sex of dog or cat you want, but don’t let this be your only concern. Instead, evaluate each pet based on its personality first and its looks second. After all, most people would probably be better off with a calm, well-socialized mutt instead of a neurotic purebred. Also, beware of getting a breed that requires more exercise than you can provide or will grow to a size you aren’t comfortable with.

Look for Friendly Pets

If you see a pet that interests you, approach its kennel. A well-socialized pet will approach you with interest, wanting attention. If the pet acts aggressive or cringes away from you, it may take more time and effort than you want to expend to turn it into a well-behaved member of the family. If possible, visit with the pet one-on-one to learn more about its personality. When visiting with the pet, look for any signs of illness such as patchy fur, poor weight condition, or coughing. Ask if the pet has seen a veterinarian at the shelter and if any health issues were detected.

Don’t Expect to Get a Pet on Your First Visit

One final tip is not to get so excited about adopting that you take the first pet that seems even reasonably acceptable. Your forever friend is out there—be patient and you will find him or her!

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