Every day, millions of homeless dogs and cats in animal shelters are euthanized because there isn't enough space to keep them for extended periods of time. Many people mistakenly believe animals in shelters were abandoned because of behavioral issues and are aggressive or undesirable in some way. But many of these pets were purchased by people with unrealistic expectations, such as the amount of time, money and love it takes to properly care for an animal. Shelters all across America spend countless hours and thousands of dollars training, vetting and caring for these abandoned animals to ensure that they are healthy and well-adjusted. That's why it's so important to make sure an animal is a good fit for your lifestyle before you bring it home. If you think you've found your perfect pet, there are several questions you should ask your local animal shelter before adopting.
Questions you should ask your local animal shelter before adopting a cat
Does this cat have any special needs or ongoing health problems?
If the cat you are adopting has ever had a medical condition, it is your right as the potential owner to know about it. Be sure to find out what the medical issues were, how long ago they were treated and whether or not they will reoccur.
Has this cat been declawed?
Although many cat owners prefer declawed cats to avoid damage to curtains, furniture or other household items, many shelters and veterinarians do not support the surgery required to do so because it is painful for the animal and leaves lasting pain and discomfort. If you get a declawed cat, you cannot let the cat roam outside. It could not protect itself.
How does this cat get along with other cats, dogs and children?
If you already have cats, dogs or children in your house, you must determine how your new cat will react when you bring it home. Most cats in shelter environments are used to living with other cats at the shelter and will do fine with feline companions. However, be aware that cats that are not used to children or dogs may not adjust well to a house that is already home to other pets.
Is this cat playful, friendly and well-socialized?
For many potential adopters, a cat that will be playful and outgoing is one of the most important qualities they are searching for when choosing their new pet. Your local shelter should be familiar with the temperament of each cat it houses and be able to tell you its energy level and types of activities it enjoys.
Questions you should ask your local animal shelter before adopting a puppy
How old is the dog?
While some families may opt for a young dog that is as close to a playful puppy as they can find, others may prefer a young adult dog that has been trained and socialized already. Some people may even be searching for an older dog with a lower exercise requirement or just want to give an elderly animal a chance to live out its last few years in a loving home.
Does this dog have any special needs or ongoing health problems?
Because veterinary care can be expensive, particularly when a dog has an ongoing need for medication or exams, it's important to establish whether or not a dog you are considering adopting will require any extensive treatments in the future. Be sure to ask about past health problems, how they were treated, and whether any of these treatments or surgeries will have to be repeated in the future.
Is the dog good with other dogs, cats and children?
Knowing the temperament of your potential new pet and how it will react to other dogs, cats or children is one of the most important questions you should ask your local animal shelter before adopting. Even if you don't already have pets at home, you may encounter other animals at the park, on walks or even during a trip to the vet, so you need to know how your new dog will react.
Has this dog ever been through a training session?
Many shelters will have staff or volunteers frequently run through training exercises with dogs at the facility. Be sure to ask how the dog reacted to training at the shelter and if it completed obedience classes with its former owner. You will likely be surprised at how many shelter dogs are familiar with basic training commands.
What breed is the dog?
Different breeds appeal to different people, and even if the dog is a mixed breed, you may want to learn as much as possible about its background. Certain breeds are prone to health issues or genetic problems that show up later in life. Knowing the breed will also help you to determine the dog’s likely activity level, lifespan, temperament and other characteristics specific to various breeds.
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