iStock_000024726165_MediumSo you’ve made the big decision to become a pet owner. For many of us, nothing is more rewarding than owning a pet and being a responsible participant in ensuring your faithful companion remains healthy and happy, except maybe taking that extra step to adopt your pooch or kitty from a shelter.

Shelter pets need loving homes, sometimes more so than those you see in the pet shop window or for sale by a breeder. As October is Adopt a Shelter Pet Month, there is no better time to acknowledge the importance of adoption, or bask in the enjoyment of giving an adoring and deserving animal a forever home and family.

Once you’ve made the decision to welcome a shelter pet into your life, you will need to make some choices on the type of dog or cat you will be bringing home.

Consider the following:

  • Breed (and any genetic health concerns endemic to the breed)
  • Age
  • Size
  • Gender
  • Attitude/friendliness
  • Type of coat (long hair, short hair)
  • Personality
  • Energy level and lifestyle needs
  • Your ability to be a responsible pet owner

Not every shelter pet will be compatible with your life, so consider your options and make your choice carefully. If you have a small yard, or none at all, it may not be a good idea to get that black lab that will require lots of room to run and exercise. Or if you have kids, know that some breeds such as Alaskan Malamutes or Chow Chow’s, or toy dog breeds like Chihuahuas, and Miniature Pinschers don’t always interact well with children.

To help you make that difficult decision, it is recommended that you:

  • Speak to the staff about the pets that are available
  • Investigate the animal’s history or breeding
  • Observe how the animals at the shelter interact with each other
  • Ask for a little one-on-one time with the pet you’ve selected
  • Take the dog for a short walk on a leash, or spend some time with your potential cat in a private room (but keep in mind that shelter life can be stressful, and that you’re not seeing the animal at his or her best)

Being a responsible pet owner requires taking those first steps to visit your local animal shelter and research the dogs available to you. If you can’t find that perfect pooch to bring home, then postpone adopting until another day. New dogs arrive all the time at most shelters, so schedule a visit for another time to start searching again for that dog that will be the perfect addition to your home and family.

Whatever your reason may be for adopting that new canine companion, adoption is a fantastic way to not only help out a dog in need, but also support the animal rescue cause. If you feel you may need assistance or direction in regards to adopting a new pet please feel free to contact us and speak with one of veterinary staff members about options and considerations for pet adoption.