Perks of adopting a shelter pet, tips for new owners :: WRAL.com

August is Clear the Shelters month, and adopting a pet has some big perks.

A lot of the dogs found in shelters are mixed breeds. Dr. Amber Karwacki, a veterinarian with Heart + Paw, said this is a good thing.

“Mixed breeds tend to be somewhat healthier than our pure-breed dogs,” she said.

Every animal is different, but if you adopt an adult dog or cat, it may be well-trained from its previous home.

Adopting a pet saves money

Adopting a dog or cat usually costs hundreds of dollars less than buying a dog. The adoption fee helps the organization save more stray animals, and taking a shelter pet home opens a space for another animal in need.

Most shelters and rescues will pay for spay and neuter surgeries for the animals they adopt out. If a puppy is too young to get the surgery before going to its new home, some rescues offer a voucher.

Shelter pets have usually been checked out by a veterinarian and are commonly up-to-date on all vaccines and medicated with fleas, tick and heartworm prevention, saving the owner more money.

Find the right pet for your family

Karwacki shared some tips for new owners who want to adopt from a shelter.

Her first tip is to pick a dog or cat that fits your lifestyle. A good match is key to making sure the animal isn’t returned to the shelter.

shelter dogs

“Know what the dog needs or the cat needs,” she said. “Some dogs need more energy, like cattle dogs, Labradors and German shepherds. They need areas to run, they need activity, or they will get destructive in your house.”

Make sure the pet will fit in well with your entire family.

“If you have kids at home, making sure you’re getting a kid-friendly pet that’s been tested with kids,” Karwacki said. “If you have other dogs or cats at home, see if they’ve been tested with other dogs and cats before, and if you’re not going to be home a lot, consider a cat versus a dog, because cats are more independent. “

It’s not just activity level. Some dogs require extensive grooming owners aren’t expecting to pay for.

“They also have to think about dogs like poodles or Shih Tzus or breeds like that,” Karwacki said. “They require grooming sessions. So if they’re not wanting to pay for grooming and things like that, that’s not the dog for them.”

Adopters can ask shelter staff for information about a dog’s specific needs and behavior. Even if the dog is a mixed breed, a quick Google search or a look at the American Kennel Club website can teach you a lot about that breed, Karwacki said.

How to make new pets comfortable

You can make a shelter pet feel welcome in your home by creating a space just for them — a pet bed or a crate where they have room to stand up and lie down.

“Have their food and water bowls nearby, and you want it in a quieter area. If your house is very busy, have a quiet spot where they can relax,” Karwacki said. “If you have children at home, I always say to warn them that they shouldn’t go running up to the dog all the time. They should let the dog come to them.”

Karwacki said it can take three months before a dog feels comfortable in a new home, so be patient in those first weeks.

“Don’t expect everything to happen within a day,” she said. “Give them some time to relax, learn the routines of the house and learn that everything’s going to be okay. If they’ve been to different shelters or rescues, they might not know that this is a permanent thing for them.”

Find a veterinarian

It’s rare, but if you adopt or rescue an animal with no vet records, schedule an appointment as soon as possible.

Even if your new pet has been vaccinated and started on preventative medications, go ahead and schedule an appointment within a month, Karwacki said.

“Within that first month of having your pet, when everything’s up to date, is when you should get in to see your veterinarian,” she said. “It establishes care with a veterinarian in case an emergency pops up, and it also lets your veterinarian get all the records for your new dog or cat into the system so nothing is missed.”

Heartworm medication and some flea and tick treatments are by prescription only, so you’ll also need a vet visit to obtain those.

Karwacki has two shelter pets herself and is thankful for Clear the Shelters.

Clear the Shelters 2022

“I think it’s awesome to try to get these pets into houses versus them sitting in the shelters, because we have so many in the shelters, and they’re all good pets,” she said. “It’s always fun to have them. They’re a wonderful addition to the household.”

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