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Pet Adoption Tips
Successful Shelter Animal Adoptions

Welcome to Diana Guerrero's Ark Animals Training & Therapy. This section is dedicated to pets, companion animals, and topics related to their care and training. This article discusses tips for successful pet adoption. Learn how to plan, prepare, and successfully adopt a pet from an animal shelter, pet rescue group, animal service agency, or humane society. You should always seek professional help for pet problems.

So now that you have made the decision to adopt an animal there are some basic preparations you should make. Most people are excited and want to get an animal right away. That seems to be human nature, however the most humane thing you can do is to wait! Taking your time and laying the groundwork is the kindest thing you can do for your new pal and yourself.

Most facilities will put you through an adoption process much like that of adopting a child. Some people get upset by this, however the bottom line is that each facility does what they feel is best for the animals in their care. You need to ask yourself some serious questions as you look through the rows and rows of loving eyes. Proper preparation will help you to obtain the best placement and match. Ask yourself a few questions:

Why do you want to get a pet?
Many people have not thought this through. Sometimes it is an emotional decision and not a realistic one. If you are in the middle of life changes where you may be moving, are in school, are changing careers, having a baby, or a variety of other situations, then it may be best to wait. Once you make the commitment, there is no turning back!

How long do you intend to have this pet?
Getting a pet is a lifetime commitment. You are adding a family member to the household. This is a living and feeling creature, not a disposable commodity or object that you discard when you tire of it. Unfortunately, most pets end up in shelters and other agencies due to a lack of commitment.

Are you willing to stick it out?
Are you willing to work through the adjustment period with this animal, if it needs one? Some animals will warm up right away, while others will take a while to do so. This adjustment period could range from a few days to as long as six months, do you care enough to work through this? Forcing the issue will do more harm than good. It will take as long as it takes.

Are you prepared financially and emotionally?
Are you ready to provide a quality home for this animal who needs your love and affection to recover from all the trauma of being left by those he loved and was bonded to? It takes understanding and compassion, but it also takes finances. Food, toys, veterinary medical and dental care, emergencies, and a variety of other needs add up to several hundred dollars a year. Realistically you could go into a thousand dollars or more in upkeep for a dog or a cat.

Does everyone in the household agree with this decision?
Everyone in the household should want to get a pet. This animal will be a household member and any disagreements on this topic should prevent you from adopting until they are solved. This means your family or roommate should want an animal too. Make sure, if you are renting, that the owner of the house approves and get this in writing!

Preparation steps
First, decide what kind of lifestyle you want to have with this animal. Traveling with your pet, playtime, grooming time, and training are encouraged --and needed. These things will help with bonding and provide comfort and clear rules that will make everyone happy.

Next, plan on taking your time in this search. The people I always admire are those who came back looking week after week. They often consider those animals who are there for a long time, older animals, and feel no pressure to make that decision. They feel that the right pet would be the one there for them when they come back. Meeting the animal several times, spending time with it, asking questions, having the whole family involved in the process is great. Plan on looking for a month or more.

Then, when you have an idea of what you want, start obtaining those items you will need for your new pet. These can be toys, beds, toileting aids, carriers, food bowls, brushes, and other grooming items, and collars, ID tags, leashes and the other things you will need. Rent videos on pet care and read some books to get information you will need. Also try to attend seminars or classes that will teach you proper pet ownership.

Don't forget to also outline the rules. It is important that everyone agrees and then sticks to them! Make the decision as to where the animal will be allowed; some people are okay with cats on counters while others are not. Dogs on the furniture will be okay with some, but the dirt and hair could put others in the household into a grump. Clear guidelines will help your new pet to feel comfortable and secure; these rules will also ease the transition process and prevent additional stress or confusion.

Plan on getting the pet when someone will be around to help the transition. The best time to get a pet is when you have a schedule that allows the animal to be monitored. For many just before the weekend is a good time, since everyone is usually around. Vacation time, or when there is a balance of someone always being at home (due to scheduling of classes or work) are also good times. Doing this will help ease the transition and allow you to address any potential challenges in the first few days.

Plan to have fun! This is very important to do. Play and spend time enjoying your new pet. Talk to the animal and spend time getting to know each other. This should be a happy and exciting time for you both! Don't forget to call in and let the shelter staff know how happy you are!

If you are experiencing this behavior problem help is just a phone call away! Hire Animal Expert

About the columnist: Since 1978 Diana L. Guerrero has worked professionally with both wild and domestic animals. Guerrero has been affiliated with, and certified by, a variety of animal programs in the USA and Europe. Based in California, she writes, consults, and speaks. Information on her animal career programs, training courses, and her books {What Animals Can Teach Us about Spirituality (SkyLight Paths, 2003), Blessing of the Animals (Sterling, 2007), Help! My Pet is Driving Me Crazy (Guerrero Ink, 2007), Animal Disaster Preparedness for Pet Owners & Pet Professionals (Guerrero Ink, 2007)} can be found in this web site and in the shop. Questions for Guerrero should be submitted via the blog comments or membership forum.


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