“People that say money can’t buy happiness, have never paid an adoption fee.”

― Author Unknown

Adopting a pet is a wonderful way to bring life and love into your home, help your community, and most importantly, save a life. More than 6.5 million animals enter shelters each year, according to the American Society for the Prevention and Cruelty of Animals (ASPCA). Rather than contribute to pet overpopulation, consider adopting a furry friend this year. Here are five steps you should take to prepare for your new fur-ever friend. 

#1: Ask yourself a few questions

It is no secret that the responsibility of caring for a pet should not be taken lightly. Before heading to the animal shelter, consider the following questions:

  • What kind of pet do I want? — Different pets require different levels of attention and care. For example, a dog needs a lot of attention, training, and exercise, whereas a rabbit needs routine cage cleaning and special handling. Think about what you and your family want in a pet and the responsibilities that come with each.

  • Am I financially ready for a pet? — The cost of caring for an animal goes well beyond the adoption fee. Expect to regularly pay for food, supplies, toys, routine and emergency veterinary care, and parasite prevention.

  • What are my limitations? — A small apartment home with no yard may not be appropriate for a giant-breed dog. Certain homes may have pet restrictions or rules  that need to be followed. Someone who works 80 hours per week and lives alone may not be the right fit for many pets. Consider all possible limitations before adopting. 

#2: Learn about your potential pet

Shelters often will have signs outside a pet’s enclosure with information about the pet’s temperament, medical concerns, and the type of home that would be suitable. This is valuable information that should be taken into account when considering adopting a pet. For instance, Rover, the 10-year-old diabetic beagle, may not be a great fit for a big, active family, but he may be the perfect companion for a single person or dedicated couple. Talk to the shelter staff about each pet you are considering to help you and your family make the best decision. 

#3: Bring the family to meet the potential new furry family members

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices to a few pets, bring in the family for a meet-and-greet. Many shelters will allow you to bring in pets you already have at home to ensure that everyone will get along. This allows pets to meet in neutral territory, under even-handed, potentially less stressful circumstances, and is a great opportunity for everyone to get to know each other before making the adoption official. 

#4: Prepare your home and collect supplies

Gather everything you’ll need for your pet—in advance, not on adoption day—so you can take your furry friend directly home to get acclimated. You’ll need to do at least the following:

  • Purchase necessary items — These will vary based on the pet you are adopting, but should include food, an enclosure (e.g., a cage, crate, or aquarium), toys, collar, leash, food and water bowls, and bedding.

  • Prepare a comfortable, quiet space for your pet — Ensure your pet’s space is in a quiet, slightly secluded area where he can retreat, and not in the middle of a busy room.

  • Pet-proof the home — Pets, like children, can be curious about things that may cause harm. Conceal electrical cords, place plants out of reach, and ensure that all medications and harmful chemicals are stored safely in cabinets. 

#5: Pat yourself on the back

By adopting a shelter pet, that pet becomes one less statistic. According to the ASPCA, 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized each year. Fortunately, this number is declining, likely thanks to folks like you who choose to adopt.

Have you recently adopted a pet? We congratulate you, and suggest you contact us to set up an appointment—we would love to meet your new furry family member, and to help ensure he starts off on the right, healthy paw.