Rescue Adoption Tips

This is additional information to accompany the article written for Mom & Caregiver Magazine. We were asked to create an article on adopting a rescue dog or cat and what should people know. To follow is the article and some additional tips that had to be removed for space reasons. Enjoy!

Adopting a Furry Family Member… A Wonderful Way to Share Your Love

To all the pet lovers out there who have enriched their lives by providing a home for a new furry family member, we want to say “thank-you!”

But you know all too well that in spite of our collective efforts, many homeless pets remain. In fact, London Animal Care Centre, London Humane Society, Paws United Dog Rescue, Cats R Us, Animalert and the over 20 other rescue groups in London have hundreds of potential family members available for adoption today.

As with all these rescue groups, Paws United works hard to bring about the adoption of hundreds of dogs every year. Paws United co-founder Alicia noted “Our goal in rescue, is to make these dogs’ lives better, to bring them home where they can belong once again” She added “These dogs show an appreciation for life that cannot be matched by any other.”

Senior dogs and those with medical conditions still find loving homes.
Said one adopter who lost her new friend to cancer after only 6 months reflected “I couldn’t have asked for a more loyal, loving and dependant creature. She changed my life and opened my eyes to the joys an older dog can give. I always wish there was more time, but the time I got I would never change. Every day was an adventure. We had our ups and downs but through it all we stuck together until the end. I am grateful she was a part of my life and a part of who I am today.”

Now someone reading this will ask – What about breeders vs. adopting, is that not an option?
Absolutely it is, and a very good option if you are looking for specific breeds and want to know the parentage of your new furry family member. There are lots of very reputable breeders out there, but make sure you check them out thoroughly. Go visit them at their location, and if they will not let you come, or will not let you meet the parents, these should be very big red flags. The good breeders are proud to show off their locations, have you meet their puppy and kitten parents and take an active role in making sure their little balls of joy find appropriate homes.

Thinking of getting a new little one from a rescue group?

Here are just a few of many tips and recommendations which anyone considering pet adoption should ask themselves.

Why do you want a pet?
It’s surprising how many people don’t ask this simple question before they get a pet. When you adopt, you are making a long-term commitment to care for them and they are making a commitment to show you love. One of our team added a new pet to their family a few years ago with the full understanding they would have this new family member until their retirement. Not knowing exactly what would happen when they retired, they at least knew the timing for adoption was right with their anticipated 15 years of stability.

Have you considered everyone’s feelings?
Bringing a new family member into your house is exciting and potentially scary. There are many unknowns. One family member’s past experience with a pet could affect their feelings toward getting a new dog or cat. Their stressors may prevent them from supporting the decision of other family members to acquire a pet. One person’s excitement should not overshadow another’s concerns.

Do you have time for a pet?
Can you schedule a dog or cat into your life? What is your work life like? What about outside of work? Do you have a continually changing schedule that gets you home late when you are not expecting it? Do your kids’ commitments keep you out of the house more often than not? Dogs, cats, and other animal companions need routine and like to spend time with their family. They require food, water, exercise, care, and companionship every day of every year. Unfortunately many of the animals that are up for adoption through the various groups and shelters are there because their parents did not understand how much time it took to care for them.

Do you know how much it will cost to have a pet?
The costs of your new family member can be quite high. Food, cat litter, training classes, medical care (spaying and neutering, vaccines, etc), grooming, toys, day care or boarding and city licensing requirements add up quickly. For dogs you should budget $900 – $1,400 a year and for cats around $1,000. Most expenses are incurred when your pet is very young and when they are very old. Sadly, few people have the foresight to set aside some rainy day money for when their aging pet is in need of some geriatric medical care.

Did you know there are many unexpected events that come with being a pet parent?
Flea infestations, scratched furniture, accidents from pets who aren’t yet house-trained, vomit on your favourite rug or comforter and unexpected medical emergencies are unfortunate but common consequences of being a pet parent. In many cases your pet is unsure what they have done wrong. There is little they can do to prevent these occurrences as they haven’t yet learned how to use the toilet yet. As pet parents you need to deliver understanding and consistent training in all these situations.

Have you considered the different breeds and if your living arrangements are suitable for them?
Consider whether you prefer long haired cats or short haired ones. Do you wear a lot of navy blue? Perhaps a white cat should be avoided. Choose a dog with an energy level equal to or lower than your own. Consider your age and theirs. Many people think small dogs would be great for an apartment. Often this isn’t the case. Many of the small breeds have more energy than their big cousins. Jack Russell Terriers for example are certainly small but are also very active, tend to bark at any noise and require a great deal of exercise before they become calm. Many large dogs, on the other hand, are laid back and quite content to lie on a couch all day. Before adopting a pet, do your research. Don’t think of how you will look paired up with your favourite breed, but consider instead the breed’s characteristics and how they will (or won’t) fit your lifestyle and living arrangements.

Are you sensitive and inclined to feeling sorry for lost pets?
Don’t make an emotional decision when choosing a new family member. When you decide the time is right, leave your emotions at the door. Going into a shelter is devastating and sad. But if you let your emotions control your brain and feel sorry for the pet, you may end up adopting a dog or cat that isn’t right for you, your family, or your environment. Save yourself the heartache and struggles later by being methodical, doing your research and being aware.

Have you considered a senior pet?
Senior cats and dogs need homes just as much as the cute puppies and kittens. They may not be suitable for homes with very young children as they may not be accustomed to being around such high energy levels. Many senior cats and dogs are better suited for the less active home where they need less exercise. Yes they may need more health care, but they pay you back with love.

Considered fostering a pet first?
If you’re unsure of whether a new dog or cat is the right choice for your family and lifestyle, consider fostering before making a commitment. Fostering is an incredibly important part of rescuing. It’s also a responsible way to know whether you’re ready to take on this commitment and properly care for a new pet. Many foster groups would love the added help so we urge you to consider it. If you tread lightly and take baby steps in the beginning and it may lead to important learning and a new family member you never suspected!

Every new pet that finds a forever home is lucky but more importantly, happy. Consider fostering, adoption or even volunteering your time to any one of the many rescue groups in the city and area. Every life involved, will be changed.