5 Things to Know Before You Adopt A New Pet
Maybe you've just got the puppy itch, or maybe a pair of sad kitty cat eyes has already stolen your heart. Stop! Not so fast!!
Animal rescue shelters are partly so full because too many people get puppies, kittens or other pets on impulse or don't think through the long-term responsibilities that owning a pet entails. Rescue shelters want to make sure when they send a pet home with you, he or she is going to be there forever. So don't be surprised if more is involved than simply going to the rescue centre and taking a new pet home.
Many rescue shelters will require home checks and other personal information about you. The type of shelter will often influence how involved the adoption process is.
Finding a shelter
Every year the RSPCA re-homes approximately 70,000 animals that are either unwanted, have been dumped or have been cruelly treated by their previous owner. The RSPCA has 56 animal shelters throughout the UK and many local branches. Visit www.rspca.org.uk for more information.
The Dogs Trust have 17 dog rescue centres throughout the UK. Their policy is to never put down a healthy dog. Their website is www.dogstrust.org.uk
The Cats Protection League has, at any one time, over 6500 cats looking for a new place to curl up and call home. They operate through re-homing centres and local branches run by volunteers. www.cats.org.uk
Battersea Dogs home in London has three rescue centres in the South of England. Their website is www.battersea.org.uk
Throughout the country there are also many smaller animal charities that may have a single animal rescue shelter or run a fostering scheme. To find them, do a search on the internet or look in the yellow pages.
Some of these rescue or foster groups are often aimed at only one breed or type of animal. With dogs, these generally live in foster homes, so you can't just go there and shop for one but you may be able to see them on internet sites.
Why do many animal rescue groups charge fees or ask for donations for animals when you're practically doing them a favour by taking them? Because it's one way of discouraging impulse adopting and because people take better care of something they have a financial investment in. In addition, adoption fees go towards veterinary care, micro-chipping and other such costs, as well as helping to support other animals in the care of the rescue centre.
Most animal rescue shelters and groups will require some information. Policies on re-homing will vary between the various animal rescue charities but before you are able to adopt a new pet they will always interview you.
What kind of information will they ask for?
1. Do you live in a house or a flat? Do you own or rent? Do you have a fenced garden? Where will the dog or cat live?
They do this for your good, as well as the animal's. They've seen too many cases of families that thought they could keep a large active dog in a flat or a cat in a house near a busy road and, even with the best of intentions, it's likely to fail. They've also seen too many pets signed over to them because a landlord doesn't allow pets, or because the owner has to move to a new flat that doesn't and, of course, they've seen too many pets that were neglected because the owners never bonded with them. In addition, if an animal has been cruelly treated, they will need a lot of TLC and they need to be sure that you are the right person for the job.
2. Who is the pet for? For instance, giving a dog as a gift is a bad idea and animal rescue shelters know it. They also know that getting a dog for the kids is a bad idea unless everyone in the family wants it.
3. Who will take care of the pet? Getting a pet so that a child learns responsibility doesn't work. If the child neglects to feed them it's the animal that suffers. Almost always, the woman of the family will then be expected to feed and care for the pet so it's vital that she, especially, is enthusiastic about the new family member!
Don't be surprised if the rescue centre wants to make a visit to your home before you can adopt your new pet. This is to check for things such as whether your garden is secure, where the pet will live and whether you are living on a busy road (important if your cat will be going outside). The rescue centre will also often make a follow-up visit or call you once your new pet has settled in.
Spaying and Neutering
Most shelters will require all cats and dogs leaving them to be neutered or spayed. Some will not let your new pet leave the premises until they have taken care of it themselves, while others will require a deposit that is only refundable when the animal has surgery.
Overall, don't think of these questions and visits as an invasion of your privacy but as insurance for your new pet and you. Animal rescue charities have both of your interests at heart. There would be nothing worse if you find that, on bringing your new pet home, you have made a big mistake!
That said, to be able to give a loving home to an unwanted dog, cat or other small animal is very rewarding.
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