Tips & FAQs

Things to think about when choosing an animal to adopt

  

DOGS

(from the Humane Society of the United States)

Your lifestyle

If you live alone in a small, third-floor apartment, for instance, adopting a large, active retriever-mix might not be the best choice ... but then, if you're a runner and want a partner for your jogs, or you have a large family of kids who will play with the dog all the time, it could be fine! A dog's size, exercise requirements, friendliness, assertiveness and compatibility with children should all figure into your decision. Remember, you're not just getting a dog; your new dog is getting a family!

Purebred or magical mix?

How do you find out which dogs have the qualities you're looking for? Information is the key: learn about the personalities of various breeds, visit with animals at the shelter and speak with an adoption counselor for guidance.

Dogs fall into one of two categories: purebreds or mixed breeds. Most animal shelters have plenty of both. The only significant difference between the two is that purebreds, because their parents and other ancestors are all members of the same breed, are similar to a specific "breed standard." This doesn't always tell you much about a dog's good health or how she'll behave, but it will help give you an idea of how big she's likely to get and whether her ears will be adorably droopy or sharp and perky (and other such physical traits). With mixes, you'll get a unique, never-seen-before blend.

More about mixed breeds

Of course, the size, appearance and temperament of most mixed breed dogs can be predicted as well. After all, mixed breeds are simply combinations of different breeds. So if you know the ancestry of a particular mixed-breed puppy or can identify what type of dog he is (e.g., terrier mix), you have a good chance of knowing how he'll turn out, too.

Mixed breeds are also more likely to be free of genetic defects common to certain purebred dogs because of overbreeding

Read more about purebreds vs. mixes »


CATS

Make Sure Everyone In The House Is Prepared To Have A Cat

Talk to your family members before bringing a new cat home. Make sure everyone knows that the fun begins only after kitty feels safe and her needs are met. Once you're sure everyone is ready for feeding, litter changing and grooming, you can divvy up chores among family members so everyone is prepared to care for kitty before she arrives.

Stock Up On Supplies Before Kitty Arrives

Have all of your cat's needs ready so she can get right down to the business of making herself at home. Kitty will need:

  • A litter box and the brand of litter she's been using
  • Food and water bowls and the food she's used to eating
  • A sturdy, rough-textured scratching post—at least three feet high—that allows her to stretch completely while scratching
  • Safe, stimulating toys. Hint: If you give her toys that make noises, you'll know when she's playing.
  • A bed lined with a soft, warm blanket or towel
  • Grooming tools: a high-quality brush and nail clipper are a good start

Routine Behavior

Give your cat a little structure to lean on. For the first few weeks, provide him with the same kind of food and feeding schedule he had before living with you—and give him the same brand of litter, too, for a familiar scent and feel on his paws. Later on, if you wish to switch to different products, you can make a slow transition.

Cat-Proof Your Home

When your cat is ready to explore the rest of her new home (for short excursions at first), be sure to get rid of stray items she might chew on or swallow, like toilet paper, tissues and paper towels. Pens and pencils may need to be kept in drawers. You may also have to tape wires to baseboards and put caps on outlets.

Put away harsh cleaning products, human medications and household poisons, and rehome anyhouseplants that might be toxic to her. Make sure foods that aren't healthy for a cat's tummy are placed securely out of reach.


Visit with shelter animals


While you're at the shelter, keep in mind that the animals there will be stressed out; quite often, a dog's true colors won't show until he's away from other animals and the shelter environment. So even if you walk past a kennel with a dog who isn't vying for your attention, don't count him out. He may just be a little scared or lonely.

An adoption counselor can help you select canines who will match your lifestyle. When you spend time with each animal, consider the following questions:

  • How old is the dog? You may be thinking about getting a puppy, but young dogs usually require much more training and supervision. If you lack the time or patience to housetrain your pup or to correct problems like chewing and jumping, an adult dog may be a better choice.
  • How shy or assertive is the dog? Although an active, bouncy dog might catch your eye, a quieter pooch might be a better match if you just want a TV and hanging-out buddy.
  • Is the animal good with kids? Ask questions of the adoptions counselors, but remember, not all shelter dogs will have a known history. In general, a friendly dog who likes to be touched and is not sensitive to handling and noise is a dog who will probably thrive in a house full of kids. If you get a puppy for your kids, remember that baby animals can be fragile and that, regardless of the dog's age or breed, you'll want to supervise his interactions with kids.

Choose a pal for life

Shelter animals deserve lifelong homes. If you're looking for your perfect pal, check out The Shelter Pet Project's website, which can help you with your search. After all, you're choosing a pal likely to be with you 10 to 15 years—or even longer. There's a dog out there who will love being part of your family!

Adoption FAQ's

(Courtesy of the ASPCA)

There are about 13,600 community animal shelters nationwide that are independent; there is no national organization monitoring these shelters. The terms “humane society” and “SPCA” are generic; shelters using those names are not part of the ASPCA or the Humane Society of the United States. 

Currently, no government institution or animal organization is responsible for tabulating national statistics for the animal protection movement. These are national estimates; the figures may vary from state to state.

  • Approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those, approximately 3.9 million are dogs and 3.4 million are cats.

  • Each year, approximately 2.7 million animals are euthanized (1.2 million dogs and 1.4 million cats).

  • Approximately 2.7 million shelter animals are adopted each year (1.4 million dogs and 1.3 million cats).

  • About 649,000 animals who enter shelters as strays are returned to their owners. Of those, 542,000 are dogs and only 100,000 are cats.

  • Of the dogs entering shelters, approximately 35% are adopted, 31% are euthanized and 26% of dogs who came in as strays are returned to their owner. 

  • Of the cats entering shelters, approximately 37% are adopted, 41% are euthanized, and less than 5% of cats who came in as strays are returned to their owners.

  • About twice as many animals enter shelters as strays compared to the number that are relinquished by their owners.


Facts about Pet Ownership in the U.S.:

  • It's estimated that 70-80 million dogs and 74-96 million cats are owned in the United States. Approximately 37-47% of all households in the United States have a dog, and 30-37% have a cat. (Source: APPA)

  • According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, approximately 40% of pet owners learned about their pet through word of mouth.

  • The majority of pets are obtained from acquaintances and family members. 28% of dogs are purchased from breeders, and 29% of cats and dogs are adopted from shelters and rescues.

  • More than 35% of cats are acquired as strays. (Source: APPA)

  • According to the American Humane Association, the most common reasons why people relinquish or give away their dogs is because their place of residence does not allow pets (29%), not enough time, divorce/death and behavior issues (10% each). The most common reasons for cats are that they were not allowed in the residence (21%) and allergies (11%).


Facts about Pet Overpopulation in the U.S.:

  • It is impossible to determine how many stray dogs and cats live in the United States; estimates for cats alone range up to 70 million.

  • The average number of litters a fertile cat produces is one to two a year; the average number of kittens is four to six per litter.

  • The average number of litters a fertile dog produces is one a year; the average number of puppies is four to six.

  • Owned cats and dogs generally live longer, healthier lives than strays.

  • Many strays are lost pets who were not kept properly indoors or provided with identification.

  • Only 10%of the animals received by shelters have been spayed or neutered, while 83% of pet dogs and 91% of pet cats are spayed or neutered.

  • The cost of spaying or neutering a pet is less than the cost of raising puppies or kittens for a year.


Area Veterinarians

After adopting your forever friend, be sure to visit a local veterinarian for check ups!

More helpful articles on animals & animal behavior

Caring for Your Best Friend's Feet, guest contributer: Pawsitive Match Rescue

Positive Reinforcement Training Tips, guest contributer: Amber Kingsley

 

 

  

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