Holiday season is one of the busiest for animal shelters and sanctuaries.
Pet parents, unfortunately, are dropping off their fur kids in record numbers because many find it inconvenient to either travel with them or make arrangements for pet-sitting or pet boarding.
Others, thankfully, are seeking to adopt and rescue during the holidays. It’s often an easier time to introduce a new companion animal to the home while everyone is off school and work for a few days and can get to know Rover or Kitty well before life’s routines take over.
many shelters rely on volunteers and they have to have time for their families and travel also during the holidays. So how to manage all this busyness to make sure animals surrendered are processed so impatient owners don’t abandon them on the streets and potential adopters are responded to in a timely fashion so they choose the correct species and find the perfect animal for a successful adoption.
Well, tools exist so that individuals and families considering adopting can do some research and planning in advance to make sure they, their homes and their finances are ready. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals offers a tipsheet “Questions to Ask Yourself Before Adopting” to guide anyone considering adopting toward the right type of animal at the correct time.
These nine questions range from discussions of finances (are you prepared to commit to regular and routine veterinary care?) to pet-proofing a home.
Once these discussions occur, on to species decisions and thoughts about compatibility.
The next tipsheet “Which Pet Is Right For You” guides future pet parents through a series of questions related to their family size, living situation, short- and long-term commitments. This tipsheet offers a pro/con approach to each type of animal and leaves readers with the next step toward adoption, including a link to finding a local shelter.
Most shelters and sanctuaries offer new pet parents a complete package: discounted vet visits, samples of various types of food, flea prevention medication for several months, a leash and collar and even microchip (where applicable) or a bowl, eye drops, and toys. It’s a good start. But, experts want all pet parents to be aware of the annual costs of pet care.
The ASPCA offers this breakdown, by species, as a minimum guide to humane care. It is available as a downloadable PDF as well.
Once a species is selected, there are a couple decisions remaining: puppy or kitty? or adult dog or cat? Benefits to both decisions. The ASPCA can guide discussions on these topics as well. Older animals are easy to train and generally represent less potential for destruction. That doesn’t mean the odd shoe won’t get chewed or become a urine target, but there’s less potential for messes. Younger animals, of course, will be with a family longer and puppies and kittens and just tons of fun. Consider the Meet Your Match program through the ASPCA, which literally pairs pet and parents based upon desired personality traits.
Once it’s time to bring Kitty or Fido home, the experts at ASPCA have some guidelines for that, too, everything from placing pet beds in every room to stashing those cleaning products and pharmaceuticals in cabinets inquiring paws can’t reach. Be sure to follow the link “find a shelter” and begin your pet search locally.
We recently adopted Geneva, a 5-year-old German Shepherd. We know this breed and the intensity and potential health issues she might represent. She came to Lakeland Animal Sanctuary as a stray, with an older male. She was not spayed, suggesting she may have escaped a puppy mill.
She is in excellent health and clearly lived with a family. She loves car rides, going for walks, and never turns down a mean game of fetch. But she is timid, especially after correction, suggesting some harshness in her past.
It took some time to find Geneva. We had meet-and-greets with other pups, including an English bulldog named Betsey we were sure would be a good fit with our family. She is 2 and a surrender after she had a close call with a child. Apparently the child surprised her when she was sleeping and Betsey responded in fear with aggression. Where the parent was at this moment is unclear.
Our meetings with Betsey were calm and enjoyable, but when we brought Suki, our Shiba Inu, we found a different animal. Betsey focused on Suki and completely antagonistic. Suki attempted to play but Betsey wanted only dominance and Suki wouldn’t accept that, being the elder female.
The good news is the shelter that housed Betsey (she has since been adopted – yea!) works cooperatively with other area shelters, forwarding applications and keeping an eye out for good matches with approved potential adopters. Communication between shelters – even during the busy holiday season – led to a call to our home and several meetings with Geneva, cat testing and playtime with Suki.
Not knowing her history, it’s like making a puzzle in reverse. But this story begins with a happy ending: how Geneva came to our home.