First things first: Do your research.Spend some time looking at shelter websites and Facebook pages to see what animals are available for adoption. Check a shelter’s adoption requirements, so you can be prepared before you go to the facility. There’s nothing more heartbreaking than falling in love with an animal and not being able to take him home.
Requirements vary widely, but you can expect to:
– fill out an application, including the names and ages of the people living in your home and the health of current or previous pets you’ve owned. Some shelters also ask for references.
– provide your veterinarian’s contact information or even veterinary records.
– if you’re a renter or live in an association, you may need to provide a copy of your lease/condo agreement or your landlord’s name and phone number to verify that you’re permitted to have a pet.
Bring your dog if you already have one at home: Many shelters require families to bring any dogs they already have at home for a meet-and-greet with the potential new pet, a policy meant to ensure chemistry between the two animals won’t be an issue. This way they get an idea whether they’re coping with each other.
Check the chemistry with humans, too: While some may have their heart set on a certain breed or look of dog or cat, it’s important to keep an open mind when looking for a forever friend. There’s going to be a lot of dogs, so just go where the chemistry takes you. When you find a dog or cat you’re interested in learning more about, spend some time interacting with the pet. Most shelters will allow you to visit with the animal in a meet-and-greet room. If it’s a dog, you might have the opportunity to take him for a walk or spend some time outside with him.
Ask questions about the animal: Don’t be afraid to ask questions about anything regarding the animal, such as their health history or the situation that put them in a shelter. The more information the shelter can give, the better prepared a family will be when questions arise long after they have left the shelter.