So you’ve decided to add a new furry friend to your family and you’re considering taking in a rescue. Where do you begin? What kind of things should you take into consideration before beginning your search? Adopting an animal should be looked at as a life long commitment so you’ll need to make sure you find the right fit for you and your family. For starters, you’ll need to reflect on yourself like your lifestyle, how often you’re home, and other pets that you already have. Next, you’ll need to consider the type of pet that you’re looking for, so that includes not only the species but also their personality, activity level, maintenance, and health concerns. The final factor that you will need to consider is your housing situation such as breed restrictions, housing fees, having enough space and a yard, and consider anyone living in the household that has allergies.
The first thing you should consider before you begin your search is the kind of lifestyle that you live. Doing this will help you identify what kind of animal would fit in best with your family. One important factor to consider is how much time you can commit to your new pet. If you aren’t home very often a laid back, low maintenance furry friend might be one to consider such as cats, or senior animals. If you are home more often you’re able to take on a pet that may require a bit more attention. If you take your pet everywhere with you, you’ll most likely prefer social, friendly and confident personalities. You’ll also want to consider any pets you currently have in this process. This could be the make it or break it factor. A lot of animals, especially dogs, appreciate having a companion of their own kind but some animals can be very selective towards who they like. You’ll want to find a pet that can match that energy of the pet in your home. Meet and greets are a great way to see if two animals are compatible to live with each other. This is usually done by bringing your pet to the rescue/shelter/foster home and having both animals meet on neutral ground. This way no one gets territorial. It’s also important to mention that two animals can get a long great, but as soon as you bring them home, their attitudes can change very quickly.
Animals have instincts, and one of those instincts is to protect their home. So bringing in a new face might trigger these behaviors and that’s perfectly normal. It takes time for your pet to adjust and share their space with someone new. That means they may not get a long at first, but as long as you stick with it and take control, they’ll get used to having each other around in no time. A lot of rescues offer dog training services and advice to help your pets adjust to the new change. Adopting a rescue animal can take a lot of patience, so make sure you do your research to be fully prepared, and possibly look for professional help.
Now that you’ve reflected what kind of lifestyle that you life, it helps narrow down what kind of animal would fit in best in your life. You should have a species, size, and/or personality in mind. Now rescuing an animal is great, but most people get so caught up in finding the perfect pet that they may not realize what kind of responsibility comes with each animal. This includes training, vet appointments, grooming maintenance, food, and activity level. When you adopt a rescue, most of the time you don’t know their background, so each rescue has different needs. A lot of dogs lose their house manners when in a shelter environment for so long, and certain breeds such as poodles require a lot more grooming than other breeds. Some animals are special needs that require a certain medication, or may need more frequent vet visits. All these things are very important to consider before making such a commitment.
The first step in analyzing your lifestyle helped you decide what kind of animal you would get a long with best, but analyzing the animals needs help make sure that you’re the right home for them. Doing so causes animals to less likely be surrendered after an adoption. This can be very traumatic for the rescue animal so it should be avoided at all costs. Now that you have considered that animal’s needs you need to decide if that is something you can fulfill consistently, financially, and patiently for the rest of that animals life.
By now you should have an idea of the amount of time you can commit, and what needs you’re capable of fulfilling. Before you welcome any animal into your home, it’s responsible to make sure you have an adequate living space to care for them. If you rent out a home or apartment, make sure they allow pets, and if there are any fees. Some cites have breed restrictions on dogs making it more difficult for them to find their forever homes. A fenced in yard isn’t necessary but is a huge plus if you want a dog. Finally, its important to consider anyone else living in that household that may be allergic to animals.
Now that you’ve considered these housing factors you will have a better idea of the capabilities and challenges you face when taking in a life long rescue friend. Many people feel they would be a great fit to offer a forever home to a rescue animal, although this may be the case, many forget to consider their living situation. A good chunk of surrender cases or failed adoptions are caused from the fact that they are unable to have pets in their home, or can’t afford the extra fees that some landlords charge. This isn’t fair to the rescue animal so make sure you check with your landlord if you rent.
The Main Goal
The main goal for these rescue animals is to find their forever homes, that means caring for that animal til the end of it’s life. For adopters, that means conducting research to be prepared for any kind of responsibility ahead in the foreseeable future. But sometimes life becomes unpredictable and people may feel like they need to re-home their pet. luckily, organizations such as the ASPCA and the Humane Society have developed their own retention programs to keep pets at home with their families. First lets discuss common reasons why people surrender their pets.
Behavioral issues, financial incompatibility, and housing are the three most common reasons why adoptions aren’t successful, or pets are surrendered.
The number one reason why people surrender their pets is due to “behavioral issues”. According to the open journal of animal science, the biggest research project on animal surrenders is that most people that have re-homed their pet claim their pet is either aggressive or destructive. (Weiss, 2015) Animals have instincts, and sometimes do things that their humans find frustrating. A perfect example of this would be a dog becoming aggressive at the vet’s office because it’s afraid. Not enough people understand that dogs become aggressive when they are afraid and don’t realize these behaviors have easy solutions. Another example would be your dog chewing up your furniture while you’re away from home, which is usually a sign of separation anxiety or just plain boredom. With such a large number of surrenders being caused by “behavioral issues”, many researchers are concerned that not enough pet owners are educated on animal behavior.
Organizations such as the ASPCA and the Humane Society have noticed this problem and offer many resources and programs to keep animals at home with their families. The Humane Society offers animal behavior and training classes to educate/assist struggling pet owners.
Another common reason for pets being re-homed is financial incompatibility. At the most basic level, all pets require food, water, shelter, veterinary care and medication. Many families struggle to keep up with veterinary bills and are forced to surrender their pet. The ASPCA formed the ASPCA retention program fund which offers grants to struggling pet owners.
“Communities are impacted by pet relinquishment. Lack of access to veterinary care, housing issues, and/or behavior problems are just a few of the reasons why pet owners may relinquish their animals to shelters. The ASPCA Pet Retention Fund program provides support to develop or enhance programs that will help keep pets in their homes based on their community’s unique needs.”
– ASPCA, 2016
Lastly, housing is another common reason for animals being surrendered by their families. This includes finding housing that allows pets, pet deposits, more expensive rent for pet owners, pet allergies, and problems within the home that might compromise the pets quality of life. Fortunately, there are many programs and non-profit organizations that offer resources to keep pets with their families by providing foster care temporarily, and offering resources to find pet-friendly housing, as well as funding grants to families at risk of re-homing their pet.
- ASPCA: Retention Fund Grants: https://www.thegrantplantnm.com/grant-detail/aspca-pet-retention-fund-grants/
- A.D.O.P.T Animal Shelter: Blessed Bonds Crisis Assistance Program: https://adoptpetshelter.org/clinic/crisis-assistance/
The Grant Plant, (2016) ASPCA pet retention fund grants. Retrieved from: https://www.thegrantplantnm.com/grant-detail/aspca-pet-retention-fund-grants/
Weiss, E., & Gramann, S., & Spain, V., & Slater, M. (2015). Goodbye to a Good Friend: An Exploration of the Re-Homing of Cats and Dogs in the U.S. New York USA: Open Journal of Animal Science, 5, 435-456.