6 questions to ask when adopting a pet
Adopting a pet

There are a lot of rescue animals out there in need of a loving furever home. If you’re thinking about expanding your family, you may just find your next best friend at a shelter or through a rescue organization. Adopting a dog or cat can be truly rewarding, but there’s a lot to think about when taking in a new pet (rescue or not). To help you out in your decision-making process, we’ve answered six questions all about adopting a deserving dog or cat, and busted some pet adoption myths in the process.

Why should I adopt a pet?

Each year, over 250,000 dogs and cats end up in Canadian animal shelters1. Adopting animals saves lives – it’s a simple as that.

What is the process to adopt a pet?

Shelters and rescues want to ensure their animals are going to the best homes possible, homes that will fit both their animals’ personalities and needs. They also want to minimize the chance of the dog or cat being returned, which can be hard on the animal.

Each rescue group and animal shelter might have a slightly different process when it comes to what’s required to successfully adopt a dog or a cat. But you can likely expect to have to fill out an application and be interviewed at least once before being given the go ahead. Another step in the adoption process might include taking part in a home visit to ensure your space is appropriate for the type of animal you want to adopt.

If you’re currently looking for second dog (or pet), you may be required to have one or more meets ups with your potential new pup too. This way you can make sure everyone gets along.

Some rescue organizations and shelters also start off with a fostering period. If everything goes smoothly, you’ll officially adopt your fur baby at the end of the trial.

How much does it cost to adopt a pet?

Getting a pet comes with associated costs that you should budget for ahead of time. The exact price of adopting a pet can vary depending on the rescue organization or shelter you choose to go with. The price can also differ depending on the age of the animal and other factors. Be sure to ask the rescue or shelter about their adoption fees upfront.

Adopting a pet is typically less expensive than purchasing a dog or cat through a breeder. In part, this is because many rescue animals already come with their shots and have either been spayed or neutered. They may also already be microchipped. These are all costs that you would have to pay for out of pocket if you were to go with a breeder (or if you were given a dog or cat for free).

As for the day to day costs of a pet, this should be the same whether you adopt or choose a breeder. The cost of a pet in the first year can range from $600 to over $3,000, while in years later it can cost you between $1,345 and $3,5602. Of course, these amounts can vary depending on your pet.

If you’re not ready to make the financial commitment of being a new pet owner, but would love to have a dog or cat in your life, consider fostering. Many rescue groups and shelters are in need of foster parents to help take care of their dogs and cats until they can find them their forever homes. Plus, the shelter or rescue typically takes care of the costs of the foster animal, such as vet bills, food and training. By volunteering to foster, you’re helping the rescue or shelter save even more animals.

Can you get pet insurance for a rescue pet?

Yes! We actually recommend it.

Although most shelters and rescue organizations do a great job at getting to know your potential pet and their current health needs, there can be unexpected issues down the road (this applies to all pets, not just those who have been adopted). If your pet gets sick or injured, pet insurance can help cover the associated medical costs, allowing you to give your fur baby the full attention they need.

Did you know? Some animal shelters actually provide you with pet insurance for a certain period of time as part of their adoption fees. Before adopting, check what’s covered by your adoption fee.

How do I pick the right pet?

Here are other questions that you’ll want to ask yourself and your family as you choose the perfect rescue animal:

  • What type of lifestyle do we live? Are you always out and about, or more likely to binge watch the latest season of your favourite show at home? You’ll want to select an animal that best matches your lifestyle. For example, if you’re extremely active, you may consider a dog with a high energy level that you can take on runs or hikes. This is also when you’ll want to honestly ask yourself how much time you have available for your future pet.
  • Who’s already a part of our family? If you have kids or other pets already, you’ll need to make sure any new addition will fit right in. Be sure to ask if any dog or cat you’re interested in would be a good match for your current crew. As mentioned, the rescue or shelter may even require a meeting between your current and potential pets to ensure there is no aggression either way.
  • What previous pet experience do I have? Have you grown up around cats or dogs, or will this be your first ever pet? Certain breeds and individual dogs or cats can require more work than others. Do your research and learn about the different temperaments that different breeds offer.
  • What are my current living arrangements? Not all animals are suited to be apartment (or condo) pets. Even, if you’re living in a home, consider how much space you have and if your backyard is fully fenced (as some dogs can be a flight risk). Renting? You’ll also want to be sure that your landlord or building allows pets before taking one in.

What are some pet adoption myths?

Aren’t only older animals available for adoption?

Definitely not! Rescue animals come in all shapes, sizes, ages and temperaments. Although there are many senior dogs and cats available for adoption, you can also find kittens and puppies (and every age in between). But, there are advantages to adopting a senior pet.

Aren’t only mixed breeds available for adoption?

Although a lot of people think that only mixed breeds are up for adoption when it comes to dogs, there are actually a lot of breed-specific rescue groups out there and shelters commonly report that around 25% of their dogs are purebred3. Also, don’t rule out going with a mixed breed instead! Mixed breeds are just as smart, even-tempered and healthy as their purebred counterparts (and sometimes even more so)3.

Aren’t only problem animals available for adoption?

Not at all. There are a lot of different situations that can cause an animal to end up in a shelter or with a rescue organization. Sometimes circumstances change, which leads to an owner needing to surrender their pet for one reason or another (most of which aren’t the animals’ fault). For example, the owner may be moving or their financial situation has changed.

Unfortunately, some animals up for adoptions haven’t had the best starts, but with patience and training, you can give a deserving dog or cat a second chance at life.

Will I know what I’m getting with a rescue animal?

Many shelters and rescue groups spend a lot of time with the animals that come in through their doors. This is especially true of organizations that foster. They get to know their animals’ likes and dislikes, which helps to place them in ideal homes. This means the shelter or rescue will be able to give you an overview of what to expect.

If you’re ready for a fur baby, a rescue pet can be the perfect addition to your family. But, whether you adopt, select a breeder, or choose another route, getting a pet is not something to take lightly. Do your due diligence to know what you’re signing up for and be committed to taking loving and proper care of any pet.

Petline Insurance Company is an affiliate of Sonnet.

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