What to do before, during and after a visit to the shelter – NBC Boston

Welcoming a furry addition to a home can be a fun and exciting event. But ensuring a smooth transition for the pet – and the family – takes a bit of preparation and work. Here are some tips from animal shelters on what to do before, during and after adoption.


Make sure everyone in the family wants a pet: Owning a pet can affect many aspects of family life, from deciding who can take the puppy out in the middle of the night to making sure everyone understands that a animal is a long-term temporal, emotional and financial investment. And because the animal will be part of the family for the long term, it’s important that everyone agrees on the type, size and personality of the companion of choice. Shelter experts advise discussing delegation of responsibilities and going through the animal selection process as a group to avoid problems later. “Understand all of the responsibilities involved and pick a time when you can all pick up a pet,” said Madeline Bernstein, president of the SPCA Los Angeles. “A lot of people have completely different ideas of what they want.”

Do your research: Experts suggest researching breeds and traits to identify animals that best fit your lifestyle before you arrive at the shelter, where you might find yourself falling for a cute cat or dog that doesn’t. wouldn’t be a good match. “Some people think Jack Russell Terriers are so cute, but they take a lot of work because they have a lot of energy,” said Texas SPCA communications specialist Stephanie Knight. “So if you’re not out and about a lot, you might want to consider getting something like a pug. It’s also a good idea to research and budget for the costs you’ll face when you bring the dog back. home, such as vaccinations for young animals, licensing fees and pet supplies.

Check the requirements: To avoid delays once you meet that perfect pet, shelters recommend checking what documents are required for adoption. This can range from leases or other proof of residency to veterinary references. “If you haven’t owned a pet, you can’t have a vet reference, but if we see they’ve had one in the past, we’ll ask,” said Mantat Wong, chief operating officer at Animal Haven in New York. or apartment renters may be more aware of pet requirements, it is important for landlords to see if they have pet restrictions as well. doesn’t always cover large dogs,” said Marc Peralta, executive director of the Best Friends Animal Society in Los Angeles.

Protect your home against puppies: Similar to preparing for a new baby, it’s important to make sure a home is safe for the arrival of a dog or cat. Pets can have just as much trouble as young children, so working ahead to keep valuables away from furry friends can save time and money in the end. “Look around and try to figure out what a puppy or kitten might be getting into, like leaving your shoes on,” said Michelle Groeper, executive director of Tails Humane Society in DeKalb, Illinois. “Take the time to clean up. It’s easier to do a little homework beforehand instead of buying new shoes because you know your pup will chew on your favorite pair. It’s also recommended for future dog owners. buy as many essential supplies as possible before adopting, such as a leash, toys, bed or crate.Preparing in advance can help ease the transition from shelter to home.

Discover the shelter before setting foot there: Most shelters have websites that many experts recommend you check out. Beyond researching the necessary requirements for adoption, people can view all of the animals the shelter currently has to get a better idea of ​​what they expect. “Look for any animal they have online that might catch your eye,” Groeper said. “It can be overwhelming if you walk in and see all these furry animals.”


Bring your dog if you already have one at home: Many shelters require families to bring any dogs they already have home for an encounter with the potential new pet, a policy intended to ensure that chemistry between the two animals won’t be an issue. “Most places require you to bring your dog,” Bernstein said. “They have an idea if they’re getting along with each other. Sometimes the situation shows it’s a bad idea (bringing another dog home) most of the time it works and helps with the introduction .

Also check chemistry with humans: While some may have their hearts set on a certain breed or look of dog or cat, it’s important to keep an open mind when looking for a forever friend. “There are going to be a lot of dogs, so go where the chemistry takes you,” Bernstein said. “People have a preconceived idea of ​​what they want and they almost never go with that.”

Ask questions about the animal: Don’t be afraid to ask questions about anything related to the animal, such as their medical history or the situation that placed them in a shelter. The more information the shelter can provide, the better prepared the family will be when questions arise long after leaving the shelter. “You ideally want to know as much as the shelter knows,” Bernstein said. “You want to know the medical conditions, if they’ve been spayed or neutered, any behavioral issues. Anything they can tell you about the animal is helpful.

Bring the papers you have prepared: Meeting the lease requirements for adopting an animal can delay the release of an animal by a day or more if the documents are not ready in advance. Many times the lease is used as confirmation of what is and is not allowed on the property. Without this proof, a family could not bring home the pet they chose on the day they chose it. “Whoever rents, it saves us a lot of trouble because then we have to call the landlord or the building and sometimes they don’t answer,” Wong said. “It’s usually the roadblock that prevents a same-day adoption.”


Jump to a training class: Puppies and kittens aren’t always easy to train, especially when their friendliness gets in the way of efforts to establish boundaries and rules. Taking an obedience class is a simple way to teach an animal the proper way to behave, while creating an important bond between the animal and its family. “The more you can share a language with your dog, the less behavioral problems there are later,” Bernstein said. “Making sure the animal is healthy, happy and going through a training course with the whole family makes it a more rewarding experience, and everyone will be happier in the end.”

Don’t worry if your new pet is shy: Dogs, and especially cats, tend to want to hide when they enter a new environment. Shelters recommend leaving shy animals alone to get used to their new home on their own, which means not following the animal as it explores. Also, even if they were domestics in the shelter, animals may revert to old behavior when frightened. “If you see a dog or cat acting weird, it’s probably because of their new surroundings,” Knight said. “Especially with cats, it’s in their nature. … It’s important to remember that they come out of it.

Keep asking questions: Many shelters encourage families to call when they need anything – these are the places that know a lot more about the animal than their new family. It’s also good to keep up to date with your veterinarian. They can answer health-related questions, as well as give recommended annual vaccinations. “We have a behavior service that will answer any questions adopters have,” Knight said. “Also follow up with your vet, make sure you have your vaccinations every year.”

Track your pet: Pets can stray from the house and get lost, and to make sure it’s easier to find your beloved pet, experts recommend registering your pet or microchipping them . That way, if someone finds them and brings them back to a shelter, an employee can scan the animal’s unique ID number and contact the animal’s recovery service, who will put them in touch with the owner. .

Accept if not a good fit: While some families want an animal and think a specific breed or pet is perfect for them, that’s not always the case. If the animal and family would be happier separated, it is important to speak to the shelter and consider returning the animal. “If it’s not a good fit, we want the animal back,” Peralta said. “Obviously we don’t want to see the animals back, but in the ‘people’s world’ sometimes it doesn’t always work out with your high school sweetheart. The same thing can happen in the animal world.

Send pictures: An easy way to say thank you to a shelter for all their hard work: submit photos of the animal in its happy new home. Many workers can’t say goodbye to animals until they’re adopted, so keeping up to date with them is affirmation that they’ve gone with the right family. “A lot of adopters really understand how much we put into the animals we care about and bond with and want us to be reassured that they went to a good home,” Wong said. “It’s a very thankless job, and it’s so good to lift your spirits to hear success stories.”

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