If you’ve never adopted a pet before, a lot of questions come to mind. How does the process work? How long will it take? How much will it cost in the end?
That’s normal! Adopting a cat or a dog is a big deal, and it does take the right combination of planning and patience. After you decide on which kind of pet to adopt, there are a few other things to consider:
Know what you want
Are you active or not so much? Do you have allergies? How clean do you want the house? Who you are will determine which kind of dog or cat you wish to adopt. Make sure to do research on the various types, and then match those types with your specific personality (and health-related needs).
That way, it will be easier to prepare for your days as a pet owner. And, of course, it will be easier to prepare the house for your pet—from removing toxic foods and pet-unfriendly plants to designating a “bedroom” for the animal.
Shelter or rescue?
Which brings us to adoption itself. More often than not, you’ll adopt a pet either at an animal shelter or a rescue, and it’s important to know the differences between the two. Shelters include public places like city and county shelters, animal control, and police departments or private entities. These private places are separate, independently run organizations, often using the words “humane society” in their name. Rescues, on the other hand, are generally foster homes or private boarding facilities run by volunteers.
At a shelter, you may be able to see a wide range pets for adoption all at once. Many shelters have a minimal or zero-screening process, which allows you to take home whichever pet you want that same day. Adoption fees are often lower than a rescue’s, but you may need to pay for additional vet care after adopting the pet.
At a rescue, volunteers often know more about each of the pets in their care, so you’ll have a better sense of the right one to adopt. Rescues do tend to have a more involved screening processes, lengthening the adoption process, but you’re more likely to find the right match. Adoption fees are also typically higher than those of a shelter, but vet care is often included, which saves you money in the long run.
Prepare to be patient
Depending on whether you go the shelter or rescue route, the adoption process can take as little as day or weeks at a time. Make sure you know how much time you’re willing to put into the process. If you’re “picky,” it makes sense to visit different shelters and rescues, so you can encounter more adoption options. Think of it like visiting multiple dealerships when you’re finding the best deal for a car.
Fortunately, rescues and shelters do receive new animals on a daily basis, which gives you more options to choose from. Patience is a virtue!