Pet adoption can save the life of an animal. There are about 78.2 million dogs and 86.4 million cats owned by people across the country, reports the Humane Society of the United States. About 20 percent of those animals are adopted from a shelter. To adopt a pet, several steps must be followed.
Research. It’s important to know which type of dog or cat breed best suits your home and lifestyle. A large breed dog such as a German shepherd may not be comfortable in a small apartment without a back yard for exercise. Allergy sufferers should opt for cat breeds with shorter hair or even no hair such as the Sphynx. In addition, some dog and cat breeds are better for families with younger children, while others are best suited to homes without children.
Commitment. A pet is a huge commitment. When you adopt, you’re accepting responsibility for another life. Many animals live 10 to 15 years, and some cats may live as long as 20 years. If you can’t commit to taking care of the animal for its full life expectancy, then you’re not ready to adopt.
Visit the adoption facility. Before making the commitment to adopt a pet, visit that animal more than once at the adoption facility. Spend time with it at different times of the day, handle the pet, and observe its eating habits and how it interacts with others to ensure you and the animal are compatible.
Paperwork. Most adoption centers require several forms to be completed before the adoption process can be approved. You may be asked to provide personal information including:
- Income (to ensure you can be financially responsible for the animal)
- Type of dwelling (apartment, house, rented, owned)
- How many people in the home (including the number of children)
- How many other pets in the home (breeds, indoor or outdoor pets, their ages, their temperaments)
You also may be asked if you plan to move in the near future, go on any extended vacations and how often you plan to take the pet (if it’s a dog) outside to allow it to relieve itself and for recreation.
After your paperwork has been approved—and it may take several days—an adoption date and time will be set.
Fees. Most adoption facilities charge fees to adopt dogs and cats. The fees include the cost of basic medical care (vaccinations and flea treatments), the cost to spay or neuter the pet, plus a fee for microchip placement within the animal (if this is done in your area). Microchips allow an animal to be identified if it becomes lost.
Once your forms and fees have been processed, it’s time to bring home your new pet. Please note that not every facility has the same adoption process. Some rescue shelters require applications to be completed and approved before you can even view animals available for adoption. Certain adoption centers also may require a home visit before you are allowed to bring an adopted animal home.