There are two million dogs and cats in the United States awaiting adoption. This number increases every second unless you take action and adopt a pet today. Pet adoption is good for your sanity, reduces stress, decreases depression, forces you to exercise, helps you make more friends, holds loneliness at bay, and gives you unconditional love. The noblest motivation of all is that you get to save an animal's life.
When considering animal adoption, it's better to go to an animal shelter than a breeder or pet store because the former gives you access to support services and a variety of breeds that have all been splayed, neutered, trained, and vaccinated.
To complete an animal adoption you have to:
- Choose and decide on a pure or a mixed breed.
- Do your homework before dropping by an animal shelter: Visit websites specifically put up to encourage animal adoption. Petfinder is a good place to start. Steer clear of websites that heap on platitudes on their sheltered animals as each animal has unique sets of good and bad behavior, which you should know right away. If this does not satisfy you, you can run your fingers through a phone book. Even malls conduct animal adoption events so that is worth seeing as well. Contact your animal shelter of choice and make inquiries about their policy on pet adoption including returning a pet, refund, and determining a good fit for their pet and the adopting home. Ask for permission to come and visit with members of your family.
- Ask some more and do your rounds. When you get to the animal shelter, this is the perfect time to personally ask about adoption procedures and go from kennel to kennel. Take notes while you're interacting with the animals - behavioral patterns, things that you notice first hand, visual cues like barking, tail whipping from side to side, and general countenance. Take note of the physical set-up, environment and condition of the animal shelters and how staff members treat you, their fellow staffers, and the animals.
- Go in depth. Ask the shelter about the criteria and tests involved in their decision to put an animal up for adoption such as biting history, hostility, genetics, and if they have ever put an animal to sleep - it happens - and it's irresponsible to place a troubled or dying animal up for adoption.
- Ask animal experts. Participate in animal training sessions and speak with a trainer whom you think makes a good resource/advisor about matters concerning animal adoption, the best and worse animal shelters, along with how to choose an animal for adoption. You can take the trainer with you on your visits to animal shelters for the price of a consultation fee.
- Keep an open mind. When you have identified your candidate, ask permission to have the animal taken out of the kennel to interact with you. Go for a short walk while getting to know your candidate for adoption. Try to pet him to test his reaction to you or if he responds happily to your touch.
- Ask the staff if you can feed him. Be on the lookout for guarding behavior or any form of aggression toward you once you try to get closer to him while he is eating.
- Ask the staff is you can give him a toy to chew on. Observe the same kind of behavior as when he was eating.
- Ask the staff if you can play with him. See if he gets very aggressive during playtime and if he can disengage from the aggression once you stop playing with him.
- Observe if he reacts the same way he does to you and other strangers who pass by. Keep a keen eye on the way he reacts to children most especially.
- If you've made a choice and you have other pets at home, ask the shelter if you can bring these pets along for introduction to the new member of your household.
Now you are ready to sign the adoption papers and take him home to a brand new life.