The decision to adopt a pet from a shelter is a hugely rewarding one. You’re opening your home and your heart to the constant pitter-patter of tiny feet that will fill your life with boundless energy and unconditional love. But before you embark on this exciting journey with your new fur-ball, here are 5 most important things that you will need to know.
1. Your Prospective Pet’s History
Knowing how the animal came to the shelter is important for you to adjust your behavior and to better understand your new pet’s training needs. It’s important for you to know if he came in as a stray who has lived on the streets for a while or if he was a family pet who was later abandoned. And broadly, the behavior of an animal off the streets will be quite different from that of one that has spent time with a family.
There are two important things that you’ll need to remember if you get to know that the pet you’re bringing home has suffered abuse: it isn’t fair to expect any overnight changes in him, and you’ll need to be prepared that there may not be a complete turnaround in his behavior. After the abuse that he’s faced, it’ll take time, patience and a lot of hard work from you to help him learn to trust humans again. It’s important to remember that while he may start trusting you, there will always be some things that you cannot help him unlearn.
You can help him overcome his fears by creating a safe environment for him and by making him feel loved. Here are a few things that you can do to make your previously abused pet feel safe and to start trusting you: Offer him protection from whatever it is that he’s afraid of. Try not to force any new behavior, no matter how small, and let him take his own time to change. Create opportunities for him to gain confidence in himself. Last but not the least, give him plenty of love, nutritious food, and loads of exercise.
2. Behavior Tests The Pet Has Taken
Shelters conduct behavior tests on all their animals to determine if an animal is suitable for adoption. Getting to know as to what tests your animal has been through and his scores on the various parameters will help you understand him better and also figure out if he is a good fit for your personality, lifestyle, and family.
The assessment of his temperament and likes and dislikes can go a long way in determining his comfort around your kids or his behavior with other pets in your family.
3. Medical Care The Pet Has Received
Usually all animals who are up for adoption at the shelter are given a clean bill of health by a vet and are up to date on their vaccinations. You may even find a fresh incision on your pet from his recent neutering. And when you decide to adopt an animal, you will receive detailed paperwork from the shelter explaining the results of the medical tests and details of the vaccinations that the animal has thus far received.
Also, many shelters and rescue organizations recommend that owners take their new pet for a veterinary exam within a specified interval of time.
4. Your Pet’s Eating Habits
It’s not a good idea to switch your new pet’s diet to anything different when you take him home. Some shelters send the new pet home with a supply of the food he’s been eating. If that’s not the case, you will need to inquire about the diet that your pet is on and continue to give him the same food for a week or two at the least.
Even if you do want him to switch to a healthier or more nutritious diet, it will need to be done gradually and in consultation with your veterinarian. He might already have a gastric upset from the stress of the movement and any change in his diet may worsen it.
5. Paperwork Involved To Adopt A Pet
Different shelters have different conditions and timelines around the adoption of their animals. While some may allow you to take the animal home right away, others might require a waiting period during which the animal is spayed, dewormed, and vaccinated. A few others may require a home inspection or a family meet-and- greet session before letting you take the pet home.
Before you sign the adoption agreement, it may be a good idea to inquire about adoption fees as they vary widely from one shelter to another. Puppies and kittens have a higher adoption fee than older animals. The fee may also differ depending on the breed of the animal.