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Adopting a Shelter Pet - Don't Let a Bad Experience Deter You!

Not long ago I was talking to a friend who went through the process of attempting to adopt a dog from a shelter... a process she called "offensive" and "insulting", particularly since she ended up walking out of there without a dog - and not by her choice. This is someone who has adopted shelter dogs before, all of whom turned out happy, confident, and beautifully mannered.

Then I remembered what happened to another friend who also tried to adopt a dog, this time from a pet rescue organization. He ended up walking out on them. He was insulted by the interviewer's abrupt manner and later said it felt like he was being interrogated for a crime.

It may feel a little off-putting if you end up in a similar situation, but ultimately the goal is to adopt a homeless pet and give him a happy life. Don't let a difficult experience deter you from doing just that! Here's another perspective about adopting a pet from a shelter.

You can't just pick the pet you want and get him. Shelters try to match the pet with a home that specifically suits him.

You might be an amazingly loving, dedicated, and experienced pet owner... but that doesn't necessarily mean that your home is the right home for a specific animal. Another animal might be better suited to you. Shelters are trying their best to make a great match, which means that not only will the animal be happy, but so too will their human families.

People "fall in love" with pets every day, based on how they look, or a sad story, or many other factors that have nothing to do with the reality of the type of care that pet needs. Shelters aren't always right - it's a subjective, human process, after all, which means it's not perfect. Occasionally an awesome home might be turned down for a specific pet... but remember, even if you don't end up with the pet you originally hoped for, there are thousands of homeless pets who need loving homes... and chances are, you'll be able to find a wonderful animal that fits right in with your family.

You're not being singled out for interrogation.

Shelters and pet rescue groups do their best to make sure that their animals go to loving and permanent homes. One way to do this is to ask potential adopters to fill in a questionnaire about their lifestyle and what they want or expect in a pet. The big stack of paperwork may feel like overkill and might even feel intrusive, but it's meant to help the shelter match pets with a suitable home.

Adoptions take time, so please try to be patient and understanding about the mound of paperwork!

The attitude? It's not personal.

Just like in any business or organization, shelters have workers who are great with the public, as well as those who might rub people the wrong way. Sometimes would-be adopters are offended by what they perceive as an insulting or condescending attitude from a shelter worker... an attitude that can feel unjustified when all the adopter is doing is trying to give a homeless pet a home!

So why the attitude? Shelter workers often see just how badly humans can treat the pets they're supposed to love. Everyone tries to deal with this in their own way and sometimes it's not pretty. It's not fair to cop an attitude with someone they don't know, but try to think of it this way: they have the animal's best interests at heart and they're doing the best they know how.

And sometimes it can also be as simple as someone having a bad day. It happens to all of us.

Yes, adopting a pet costs money.

Caring for pets in a shelter costs money. One of the ways to offset these costs is to charge an adoption fee. People sometimes argue that it's better to give away pets for free so that more people can adopt. However, pets are a financial commitment - the adoption fee is just the tip of the iceberg, with many ongoing expenses for pet owners including veterinary bills.

If someone isn't prepared to pay the adoption fee, would they be willing to pay the ongoing costs of care? Sure, some will, others won't. It's a fact of life that there are people who are perfectly willing to keep a pet so long as it doesn't cost them much or cause any inconvenience. An adoption fee helps to weed some of these people out. Keep in mind, too, that the adoption fee usually ends up being a pretty good bargain - in many cases, it'll include spay/neuter surgery, microchip and/or tattoo, municipal license, a health exam, initial vaccinations, and other extras. Plus the adoption fees help the shelter to continue to care for other animals in need.

It's also not uncommon for there to be different adoption fees for different ages of pets. Puppies and kittens are always in highest demand, and so their adoption fees may be highest. Senior and special needs pets usually have the lowest adoption fees because it's much harder to find them homes, and adopters sometimes need to be prepared for higher medical costs.

Countless people have had a smooth and positive adoption experience. Unfortunately, that's not always the case. Obviously it isn't ideal to alienate potential adopters. Shelter and rescue workers have a tough and emotional job, often with limited resources. They're human - and that means they're not perfect - but shelter pets are worth the effort. Please don't let a difficult adoption process stop you from giving a pet a home!


"Friends show their love in times of trouble, not in happiness." (Euripides)

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