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Underdog Blog

Adopting Your First Rescue Pet

Sabrina Ortiz

By Jessica Brody


Adoption is a wonderful way to bring a new pet into your family, but with so many options, how do you find the right fit for your family? Here’s what to consider when you decide to rescue a pet.

Why Adopt?

Some first-time pet owners think that purchasing from a breeder is the best way to get the pet they want, but the reality is that good breeders are expensive, and there are a lot of bad breeders out there. Even if you use a reputable breeder, there’s no guarantee your pet will fit with your family. Many breeders reserve litters before they’re even born, leaving you to commit to a pet you’ve never met.

When you adopt, you can spend time with different animals until you find the one for you. Since most rescue pets have had previous owner issues, not behavioral problems, you’ll have a selection of well-behaved dogs and cats of every age. You can even find purebred pets to adopt, although it may take a little patience or a wider geographical scope if you have a specific breed in mind.

Rescue pets are often already vaccinated and spayed or neutered, saving you money. On top of that, adopting is much cheaper than buying: Adoption fees generally range from $50 to $100, whereas purchasing a purebred pet can easily run over $1,000.

The best reason to adopt, not shop? You save the life of one of 6-8 million pets every year.


How to Find the Right Match

Start by considering what kind of pet you’d like. For most pet owners, the obvious question is a dog or a cat. But you’ll need to dig deeper if you want to find a pet that’s compatible with your family.

Start by deciding what age of pet you’d prefer. Kittens and puppies are cute, but they have a lot of energy and require extensive training. Young adult cats and dogs are more settled into their personality, but may still have a few bad habits to break. Adult and senior pets are mellow, easygoing companions, but you’ll have fewer years to spend with your pet and may face higher vet care costs.

Next, consider what activities you want to do with your pet. Are you seeking an indoor companion to give affection to, or do you want a pet you can take on adventures? Do you lead an active lifestyle, or is a leisurely walk with your new dog your idea of a good time? Cats and dogs have a wide range of personalities, and deciding what sort of companion you want will help narrow your options.

Once you have a basic conception of your ideal pet, it’s time to start visiting. Many animal rescues list adoptable pets online, but a picture is no substitute for getting to know an animal in person. Visit every few weeks to see new residents. While you’re there, ask staff what they know about the pets that catch your eye. An animal’s background can tell you a lot about what kind of pet it will be.

As you’re visiting the animals, keep in mind that a dog or cat’s personality at the rescue may not match how it will behave in a home. Some animals that seem fearful or stressed may open up after adoption. If you can’t commit a lot of time to training or are bringing a pet into a home with other animals or young children, adopting through a foster program is a good way to get peace of mind regarding a dog or cat’s behavior. If you take the plunge but know that you’re going to be gone a lot for work, plan to use a dog walking or pet sitter service so that your new furry friend is given plenty of attention and/or exercise.

Whatever you do, keep an open mind about your perfect pet. You may think you want a calico kitten and fall in love with a sweet older tabby or dream of a Golden Retriever only to find your dream dog in a black Lab mix. When you’re flexible on less important traits like sex and color, you’re more likely to find the pet you’ve always imagined.


Image via Pixabay