Nothing quite completes a home like a new pet. Pets are not only fun to play with and provide companionship, but can also offer people a variety of additional benefits. As a result, it’s no surprise that nearly three quarters of families in America have at least one pet, equaling tens of millions in America alone.
Despite this, only about 3 million shelter animals are adopted every year, leaving many animals behind. While more people are beginning to get behind the idea of “adopt, don’t shop”, there is still a lot of progress to be made.
Bringing home a rescue pet is not only a great way to add a new family member to your house, but also a more affordable choice, as an adoption fee is usually less expensive than purchasing from a breeder. In fact, there are a number of benefits to rescuing a pet rather than buying. With that in mind, this article is going to act as a guide to bringing home a rescue pet. We’ll look at checklist items to complete before adopting, items you may need, and how to make your pet a great addition to the family!
1. Try Getting as Much Information as Possible
When you adopt a rescue dog or cat, in most cases, you won’t know much about its history. This includes its age, exact breed, why it was abandoned, and a variety of other things. While the shelter might be able to give you some information, you’re pretty much in the dark.
This is why it’s important to spend time with the pet before adopting it. You’ll want to know its demeanor, and make sure it’s an animal that you’re capable of supporting for the foreseeable future.
It’s important to consider that the pet’s behavior in the shelter could be vastly different from how it will act at home. You never truly know what you’re going to get out of a rescue pet, which is why research and dedication is truly important and not a decision to take lightly.
2. Buy the Supplies You Need
Once you have made the choice to rescue a pet, you’ll need to make sure you have the essential items before it comes home. These essentials include food, toys, a bed, kennel/crate, leash, collar, dog/cat tags, food dishes, among others.
There may be some extra things depending on the type of pet you rescue. For example, if you rescue a cat you’ll need a litter box and a scratching post, while a bird will need a cage.
3. Pet-Proof Your Home
Once you have the items you need, make your home ready for the animal. Most animals are curious, and will likely check every nook and cranny in your house once they arrive. Make sure to do a sweep of rooms to ensure they are pet friendly.
In particular, if your pet will spend time outside, check your yard. Make sure there are no ways out and no plants that are potentially poisonous. Also make sure to hide all chemicals, ensure they cannot reach human food, and remove sharp objects.
4. Establish Ground Rules With Your Family
Before the pet actually arrives, it’s important to make sure everyone is up for the challenge that a rescue pet brings. Go over ground rules with your family: where the pet is allowed to go, who is responsible for feeding and cleaning up after the pet, and where will it sleep.
The important thing is to ensure everyone is happy and content with their role, so they will remain consistent with it.
5. Introduce the Pet Slowly, Don’t Rush it
It would be great if a new pet instantly meshed with your family life and existing pets, but this isn’t always the case. There is likely to be a brief period of time where the pet is scared, confused, stressed and may even act out. This is completely normal, whether a rescue pet or not.
You, your family, and your entire home are completely new to the pet and it can be a lot to handle. Because of this, be sure to introduce them slowly. Give the pet as much time as it needs to feel comfortable and don’t try and force it. After enough time passes, the pet will be comfortable and begin to act normally.
6. One Thing at a Time
Moving somewhere completely new is intimidating for everyone, especially for a new rescue animal. As a result, introduce one thing at a time and have patience with your new pet. It’s best to slowly introduce your rescue to the inside of your house, especially where it will live, letting it explore each room for a few minutes before moving on.
Next, begin to introduce your pet to members of the family. Introduce each person individually, allowing your pet make the first move before allowing them to touch or hold the animal. If you have children, make sure they’re gentle with the animal.
Of course, these meetings between pets and children should be supervised by an adult. America is home to hundreds of thousands of dog bites each year and children are the most common victim, so always be safe.
Once the pet is comfortable enough with the surroundings and the people it will interact with daily, it should begin to calm down. As for how long this will take, it depends on a number of factors including age, type of pet, and any trauma it may have experienced in the past. Be patient.
7. Establish a Routine
Once your pet is comfortable and behaving predictably, it’s time to establish a routine with them. This routine will depend on your schedule and who’s at home during different parts of the day. You should dedicate a time for the pet to eat, a time to use the bathroom (if it needs to be let out), and a time to go for walks, etc.
Pets are creatures of habit so establishing a routine is very important. Also be conscious of other routine needs, such as potty training and obedience training.
8. The Bottom Line
Getting a rescue pet is an increasingly popular way to join the world of pet ownership. However, it’s important to be aware of all of the potential challenges and risks before doing so. Owning and caring for a rescue pet can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but will come with its responsibilities. By properly planning, your new rescue will have a smooth transition into your home and family.