Tips for Adopters | Get Your Pet

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Questions to Ask Yourself Before Adopting

We strongly believe that pets enrich your life with energy and love.

But there are practical matters to consider before bringing a pet into your home, above and beyond simply providing food, water and shelter.

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We want your adoption to succeed. So before adopting a cat or dog please take some time to ask yourself the following questions:

Is the timing right for you and your family?

Adopting a new pet is a lifetime commitment, which can mean up to 15-20 years for a puppy or kitten. Think ahead as to how your new friend will fit into your future, as well as into your present situation. Lifestyle changes such as moving or the birth of children can be hard to predict, but considering what may happen down the road can help you select the right pet now.

Are you ready for the expenses?

The love a newly-adopted pet provides is priceless; keeping them happy and healthy is not. The cost of food, veterinary care, spaying or neutering, grooming, and proper identification (a collar with tags and/or a more permanent form of ID, such as micro-chipping) can add up. Are you willing and able to cover those costs?

How much attention can you give your new pet?

Most dogs enjoy several hours of exercise and companionship every day. Cats are healthiest and happiest when kept indoors, so exercise is usually not an issue, but most still love to play and spend time with you. If your work demands that you travel often, or if you’re out of the house most days and evenings, you will have to make arrangements to ensure your new pet gets the enrichment he or she needs.

Will your new pet fit in with your family?

Make sure all members of your family, both the two-legged and four-legged kind, can accommodate the addition of a new cat or dog to your household. Consider everyone’s personality, health and level of responsibility in your choice.

 Questions to Ask a Guardian

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  • How did you get your pet? It’s always good to know the pet’s full history.
  • How long have you had your pet? If the pet has only been with the current Guardian a short time, see if you can get the previous owner’s contact information.
  • Why do you need to find your pet a new home? Be understanding of the situation. You never know what someone is going through, and the fact that they are trying to find their pet a new home instead of resorting to a shelter shows that they care.
  • What is your pet’s favorite thing to do? Knowing the cat or dog’s favorite activities will help smooth the transition immensely.
  • Is your pet scared of anything? For instance: thunderstorms, fireworks, loud noises, car rides, trips to the vet, people in uniforms, children or other animals.
  • Does your pet have any allergies? You’ll want to know what, if anything, to avoid sharing with your new friend.
  • What type of food does your pet eat? Changing a pet’s diet dramatically can cause major gastrointestinal issues. To avoid diarrhea/vomiting, make sure to keep the pet on their current diet for at least two weeks before transitioning to something new.
  • Who has your pet lived with before? Dogs, cats, kids? You’ll want to know how the pet behaves around all types of people and animals.
  • Does your pet have any medical conditions? Learn everything you can about the pet’s medical history, and get copies of any veterinary documents, if possible.
  • Has your pet ever had any behavioral issues? Make sure to ask specifics like, “Have they ever shown aggression to a person or another animal?” or “Have they ever urinated inappropriately in your house?” Don’t worry about things that are specific to puppies or kittens, like play-biting or accidents in the house prior to house training. Ask things that are relevant to your lifestyle, such as, “Do they bark at new people? Will they stay with you without a leash? Do they chase squirrels and other outdoor animals?”
  • Is your pet neutered? (Use the term “spayed” for females) If the answer is yes, that’s great. If the answer is no, this should be your first priority! Spaying/neutering is essential to reducing the unwanted pet population, and Get Your Pet can assist with finding a low-cost resource for this service. But please know that this will most likely cost you something.
  • Is your pet up to date on vaccines? Vaccinations are critical to a pet’s health. If the pet is up-to-date on vaccines, make sure to get proof of this.
  • Is your pet current on flea/tick prevention? Depending on where you live, or on whether or not the pet will be spending much time outside, you may decide to use flea/tick prevention only seasonally. However, as a “best practice”, Get Your Pet strongly recommends making sure the pet is free of external parasites before you bring them into your home.
  • Has your pet been de-wormed or had a fecal test performed recently? This is often the most overlooked item – but it is extremely important! Many intestinal parasites that dogs and cats have are zoonotic, which means they can be transmitted to humans. De-worming is relatively inexpensive and well worth it.
  • Has your pet been on Heartworm Prevention? This is most applicable to dogs, but cats can get heartworms as well. Heartworm is exactly what it sounds like – a parasite that lives in the heart. It is transmitted by mosquitoes and can be fatal. Keep your newly-adopted dog on heartworm prevention year round, or as directed by your veterinarian.
  • Is your pet micro-chipped? This is important because if you adopt the pet, you’ll need to make sure the information is updated with the microchip company.

Tips for Making your Home New-Pet Ready

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  • Use crates and gates to confine your new dog when they are home alone, until their manners earn them free rein of the house.
  • Roll up or store decorative rugs and keep a newly-adopted dog out of carpeted areas until they are fully familiar with the house and house-trained.
  • Provide a comfy bed for your pet in every room in which you spend time. Cats and dogs are more likely to stay off the furniture if they have alternatives.
  • Make sure fresh, potable water is always available to your newly-adopted pet.
  • If you recently adopted a cat, be sure that good metal screens are in place in all the windows. Offer your new cat a variety of scratching posts and perches.
  • Provide plenty of “approved” toys for your new pet to chew. If they have plenty of chew toys and bones of their own, they’ll be less likely to sample your things.
  • Remove poisonous plants in and around your home that are toxic and deadly to pets.
  • Add time together into your daily routine. You just adopted a new family member, and they have so much love to give you! Spend at least 30 minutes of your day paying attention to your new pet, doing things like taking walks, grooming, playing with toys, or just snuggling on the couch.

Tips for the Meet-Up

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Meeting a new pet can be both exciting and a bit awkward. Here are a few ground rules to make a first meeting go smoothly.

  • Be understanding and sympathetic to the pet’s Guardian; chances are that this is a difficult time for them.
  • Answer all of the Guardian’s questions truthfully. If you’re not sure, say so. This isn’t a process where there are “right” or “wrong” answers. Ultimately, it is up to the Guardian to decide if you are the right fit for their pet. Your best chance at finding the pet that is right for your home hinges on your being honest with the Guardian.
  • Ask questions. You have a right to know all about the pet you may be adopting. Take this opportunity to learn everything you can. You can’t ask too many questions!
  • Be respectful when approaching the pet. See the Do’s and Don’ts below.
  • If you have brought a dog to the meet-up, be sure to read Introducing Dogs to One Another.

Do’s & Don’ts When Meeting a Pet for the First Time

  • Do slowly extend the back of your hand to the pet and let him or her approach and sniff you first.
  • Do speak calmly and quietly.
  • Do avoid eye contact and keep your body turned to the side until you are sure the pet is comfortable in your presence.
  • Don’t lean over the pet and put your hand in their face or directly on top of their head. This gesture can be threatening and may cause an unwanted response.
  • Don’t grab or hug the pet. It’s the first “date”, for goodness sakes!
  • Don’t stare the pet directly in the eyes or put your face directly in theirs.
  • Don’t squeal or shout in excitement at the pet.

Tips for the Exam / Adoption

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You’ve officially decided to adopt! Congratulations! Your adoption through entitles you to an initial adoption exam, administered by a licensed veterinarian at a participating Get Your Pet veterinary office. This is where you will get first-hand information about the health status of the pet you are adopting.

Here are some tips to make the exam (and adoption) go smoothly:

  • Make sure to arrange through the Get Your Pet website a time and location that work for both you and the pet’s Guardian.
  • Remember to bring your printed voucher, or have it easily accessible on your smart phone. You will need to present this to the veterinarian at the time of the exam.
  • Be prepared to take the pet home with you, unless you have made other arrangements with the pet’s Guardian. It’s a good idea to bring an animal carrier or leash to the exam, in case the Guardian wants to keep theirs.
  • If there are medical issues discovered during the exam, the next step is up to you. If you have not accepted physical possession of the pet yet, you are not obligated to do so. You should only go forward with the adoption if you are willing to accept responsibility for the pet’s medical care.
  • Listen to the veterinarian’s recommendations. Things like flea and tick prevention, de-worming and preventative blood work can be crucial for your new pet’s health.

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Joyful for You, Bittersweet for Them

When the exam is successfully completed, it is time for the actual adoption to take place. Remember that transferring the pet into your care, while very exciting for you, will probably be bittersweet for the Guardian.

Be sensitive to the Guardian’s feelings. They might want a moment with their (now, your) pet, so give them some space if they need it. A Guardian may want to leave you with the pet in the office and just go. Or, you may want to let the Guardian and the pet exit the office first and say their goodbyes, then follow them out and take possession of the pet so you can go your separate ways.

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Remember to Finish the Process

Take a moment in the office to sign in to your Get Your Pet dashboard. Select Follow Up and indicate that you now have possession of the pet, then follow the steps to make your adoption legal and take advantage of all the benefits that come with the Adoption Package. Or, you can wait until you get home. Just don’t forget to finish the process in all the excitement!

You and the Guardian can decide whether or not you want to keep in touch. That’s one of the great things about Get Your Pet: what you choose to do is up to you.

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Whatever you decide, you will have done a wonderful deed, one you and the Guardian should be proud of. Together, you just saved a life. Keeping your new pet out of the animal shelter is undoubtedly the first of many gifts you will provide, and your pet will return the favor with endless love.

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