(Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Adopting animals from your local shelter is great!  That is, if you’ve considered these tips before deciding to rush in to such a commitment…

Too often,  shelters find out the hard way that people tend to like the ‘idea’ of a pet more so than the actual responsibility it takes to own and properly care for that animal.  Adopting an animal is typically upwards of a decade’s worth of commitment, so considering these tips beforehand helps ensure you are ready for the responsibility:

  • Do you have the time?

Time is amongst one of the most important aspects of pet-owning commitment, especially the first few weeks to months after taking home the new companion.  All animals need an adjustment/acclimation period and a set schedule to operate on once in their new home.  Patience is key, but time is essential.  This also includes the time they will need to be properly exercised, trained, etc.

  • Do you have the financial stability?

Adopting animals from a local shelter is generally much cheaper than going through a breeder, but even “free” animals are never actually free.  Willing the animal is completely healthy with no underlying conditions that need additional treatments, they all will require at minimum: annual vet visits, regular flea/tick treatments, heartworm, vaccines, etc.  That’s not including food, toys, and other things needed to ensure their happiness! Being able to provide for an animal financially is a huge responsibility to consider.

  • Do you have the home and lifestyle to accommodate a pet?

First and foremost you have to be sure that your living/working arrangement can adequately accommodate a pet.  For example, if you do not own your home, does your landlord allow pets?  Or, if you plan on moving, can you be sure your pet will be welcome in your new residence? (It is not uncommon for landlords to have breed/size/weight restrictions on dogs or a complete no animal or additional pet fee policy.) If you travel frequently for work, is someone else able to care for it? Do you have enough space for an animal to thrive in their environment? These are all important questions that should be able to be answered prior to committing to another living thing.

  • Do you have small children or other animals?

One very important thing that often times can get overlooked, is the history of the majority of shelter animals.  More often than not, they come from neglectful or abusive situations and may not have had close interaction with children or other animals.  Something to consider is the patience and strategy to integrate your shelter pet into the home nicely, and setting boundaries for your current pets and/or small kids.  Shelter animals need an adjustment period and extra observation when acclimating with new animals and people, and sometimes overall, it would be best if they were a solo companion.  Be sure to ask your local shelter for meet and greets or the animal’s known preferences.

  • What type of animal are you able to properly care for?

Small animals like puppies and kittens are without a doubt adorable and fun, but they certainly require the most time, money, and attention right off the bat.  They also may not be ideal in certain homes with small children or other animals.  If those things aren’t doable with your current situation, you may be best suited with an older animal or even a senior.  However, things to consider with elder animals is their health status, they may need additional care or accommodations. Find out which would be right for you here!


Last year alone, The SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare had 107 dogs and 60 cats RETURNED (adopted and brought back).  The majority of these animals we returned due to ‘lifestyle changes’ of the adopter (moving, couldn’t commit financially, didn’t spend time training, etc.) But also unfortunately because many of these adopters did not fully consider all of the elements of pet ownership, especially when rescuing.  Returning (or surrendering) an animal to a shelter is HIGHLY stressful to the companion.  By taking the time to fully consider if a pet or rescue animal is the right move for you, and not adopting on impulse, you will save yourself and these animals a lot of stress.

As you can see, there are several very important things to consider before adopting a shelter animal, or even obtaining a pet in a different way.  Be sure you’re able to care for them in all the ways they require. If you have fully considered every aspect of pet ownership and feel a companion is exactly right for you, there is no better time than now to adopt from your local shelters!

Thanks so much to Claire Grimes, Communications Director of The SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare, for taking the time to provide some insight on things to consider before adopting! Learn more about them and their amazing animals available for adoption at letlovelive.org