A Step-By-Step Guide
to Adopting A Pet
Getting a pet is always an exciting time in anyone's life, but when you know that you're helping a once mistreated, unloved animal find his forever home, it makes it that much better.
Can you offer a pet a home for life?
Due to the turbulent, abusive or unhappy homes that most rescue animals come from, shelters often look for 'forever homes' for their residents, to guarantee that the rest of their life will be considerably better than the start. Taking on an animal for the rest of its lifetime is a big step, so make sure you're ready for it. Some shelters, however, will consider loans for bigger animals, like horses, to ensure their security in case anything goes wrong.
Are you open to finding the perfect pet, whether he's young, old, mixed breed, or pedigree?
Picking your pet from a rescue centre may narrow your choices – although you can look online and call ahead to see what they have in, it's likely that you'll be bowled over by the wagging tails, smiley faces and heart-wrenching stories to worry about whether he or she is pedigree or not!
Do you have the time and facilities?
When you first bring an adopted pet into your home, they will be incredibly confused about where they are and what to expect. They will continue to feel anxious until they get to know you, and the best way to gain their trust is to spend a lot of time with them. As well as having the correct equipment in place for your pet, you must ensure that somebody will be available for the pet at all times, and that they can be both patient and understanding with the animal.
Have you considered training your pet?
An adopted pet may require a lot of patience. Their previous owners may have used different training equipment and vocabulary to what you are planning on using, or they may have never even been trained at all. If you are able to get hold of any of their previous training information, it can be incredibly useful and can help to limit the animal's confusion.
Have you checked out local shelters or online for bigger charities?
When you consider adopting an animal, make sure to check both local and national charities and shelters! Even if you're based fairly far from rehoming centres, many charities advertise the animals they have online, so you're free to browse through until you find your perfect match. The smaller places may not have the time or resource to put into online rehoming, but they'll always be happy to hear from you over the phone. If you live near any shelters, drop in for a look, and see who you find!
Where to start your search
Have you picked a pet, and started the process?
Although each centre will handle it differently, there's a layout that most will follow when it comes to rehoming.
The rehoming process
Once you know which animal is best for you, you'll usually be asked to send an adoption request. This will be made up of a short questionnaire about you, your lifestyle, your experience with animals, and where you live. This questionnaire will help match you up to your perfect partner, as all animals at shelters undergo both a veterinary and behavioural assessment, before being put up for adoption.
If the staff think you'll be a good pair, you'll be invited in for an interview – just so everyone can double check all is right! If they think there's someone better suited to you, or if the animal is already reserved for someone else, you'll be sent other suitable options to take a look at.
Next, you'll be invited to the centre for a meet and greet – both for the centre staff to meet you, and for you to meet your four-legged friend!
Ready for a home check, if required?
Depending on what animal you're adopting, the rescue centre may want to conduct a home check. This is just to make sure that you have enough space, the correct kind of fencing, and a pet-friendly space for your newest family addition.
Are you happy to make changes to your home?
As charities and rescue centres have extremely high standards, they may want you to make small changes to your home to suit whichever pet you've chosen. These may be things as simple as fitting child-locks onto cupboard doors, or bigger projects, like investing in better fences. The people doing the homechecks will make it as painless as possible, and you just need to remember they only have the animal's best interests at heart!
Have you considered preparing your home with suitable beds, toys, baskets and pet food?
If this is your first pet, you'll want to ensure that you've got everything ready and in place for their arrival. Sort out any hutches, beds or baskets that you'll need, as well as feed, bowls and an assortment of toys!
Do you have an insurance plan sorted?
Insuring your pet should be one of the first things you do. Veterinary and medical bills can quickly start to add up – even for routine check-ups and necessary vaccinations! Finding an insurance plan that will ensure your pet's health and well-being, no matter what happens, is vital, and many charities and rescue centres will request that you do it.
Ready to pick him/her up?
Once you've got your house sorted, feed in place, and a suitable way of getting him or her home – you're sorted!
Have you completed a home visit after adoption?
Many places will want to check in on your new pet once he or she has settled in: even though you're his new owner, the centre will still like to keep an eye on him during the settling in period, and check that the relationship is going well and as expected. This is always useful, as the centre will be there for any queries or problems you may have, and if the two of you don't get along as well as you'd hoped, they'll be there to either give you more advice on building a bond, or take him back and find you a better suited animal.
You now have a friend for life!
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