There’s nothing more beautiful than providing a home for an animal that sorely needs it. It’s no surprise, then, that pet adoption is the favored-by-many method of acquiring a new furry member of the family. Not only do you acquire a lifetime companion whom you can spoil with gifts like dog art prints and delicious treats, but you’re also giving an animal a second chance at life.
Although you may be eager to bring home the dog of your dreams, it’s important not to adopt it on a brash whim. Rather, you must carefully plan for the pet adoption process because it’s not as simple as you may believe. In fact, there are many factors to consider, including the type of dog you want to adopt, the center from where you want to adopt, as well as the minute yet incredibly important details, including adoption fees and the items you need to prepare before bringing home your new pet.
Prep 1: Finding the Right Shelter
Although you may be tempted to visit the shelter nearest your abode, it would be prudent to do some research on the adoption centers you want to visit. There are certain details you may want to know about the establishment. For example, you may want to know the adoption center’s mission statement, the type of organization it is — a non-profit, a no-kill shelter — and the reputation it has maintained throughout the years. After all, you want to make sure you choose a reputable place.
In this stage, Google is your best friend. Simply type the keywords “dog adoption center,” and you will receive a string of locations within your area. You can visit each of these locations’ websites to read more about the shelter and to browse through its list of dogs available for adoption. Many of the entries about the dogs contain pertinent information that will affect your decision, including the dogs’ breeds, age, and personality.
If you’re not satisfied with your internet research, you can also ask your local community (friends, neighbors, veterinarian, or family) for recommendations.
Once you’ve found the shelter from where you want to adopt, pay it a visit to see the quality of care it provides. Make sure to take note of the shelter’s cleanliness and the physical state of the animals. You want to make sure the shelter you choose is reputable.
When you’re there, don’t forget to meet the dog you’re interested in adopting and ask relevant questions, for example, whether or not the dog is spayed or neutered, where it came from, and whether it has received its vaccinations.
Prep 2: Calculating the Overall Cost
The shelter to visit and the dog to adopt are not the only details you need to consider when becoming a pet parent. You must also consider the costs. When you shop for adoption centers, make sure you know how much you need to pay in pet adoption fees. Depending on where you choose to adopt, the fees can cost as much as $200. However, there are certain shelters that allow you to adopt for free. Again, do your research.
If you’re wondering why adoption fees can cost so much, here’s the answer, courtesy of Petfinder, which breaks down adoption fees:
- Veterinary wellness visit and exam: $50-100
- Spaying or neutering: $150-300
- Distemper vaccination: $20-30×2
- Rabies vaccination: $15-25
- Heartworm test: $15-35
- Flea/tick treatment: $50-200
- Microchip: $50
- Deworming: $20-50
- Collar and an identification tag: $5-10
The grand total of the above example is between $425 to $880, although, Petfinder notes, most shelters cover some of the costs.
Getting your dog the right veterinary care is an important preliminary step in adoption. You want to make sure the dog is well and healthy before entering your home.
Prep 3: Fulfilling Adoption Requirements
In addition to fees, you may also need to obtain proof that you are the rightful owner of the newly adopted pet. In fact, you may need to obtain the following pieces of evidence, says Pawsperous Pets.
- Picture ID with your current address
- Proof of lease or home ownership
- Documentation for any other pets you currently own
- A list of references
- Photos of enclosures ( e.g., a fenced yard for a dog) if applicable
In some instances, certain adoption centers may require you to bring home the dog you want to get before finalizing the adoption to make sure the animal is coming to a fit home. Shelters do this so certain dogs, for example rescues from abusive owners, are comfortable in their new homes with their new families.
Prep 4: Purchasing Necessities
Before you bring your new family member home, you must first purchase supplies that your dog will need. Here are the essentials you can’t miss:
- Food and water bowls
- Dog food
- ID tag with your contact information
- Dog bed
- Custom Dog Shirts
- Nail clippers
- Canine toothbrush and toothpaste
- Brush (for long-haired dogs)
- Soil pads (for potty-trained dogs)
- Poop bags
The Responsibilities of a Pet Parent
When we were children begging our parents for a puppy, we were firmly told that owning a pet comes with a lot of responsibilities—and they were right. Having a pet is like having a child: you need to pay for its food, shelter, toys, and insurance. You need to give it the attention and mental stimulation it needs. You need to train it, to discipline it, to clean up after its mess.
Before you think about pet adoption, you must first consider whether you are ready to become a pet parent. You must consider whether you can afford it, whether you can dedicate enough time to it, and whether you are willing to make certain sacrifices to meet its needs. Remember, it will be harder to travel, harder to find apartments, harder to stay out late during the weekends, with a dog in tow.
But also remember that the lifelong companionship, the bond, and the memories you will create together will be worth it all.