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Questions to Ask When Adopting a Rescue Dog or Cat

Special Thanks to Author, Mikki Hogan

On the adoption application, many questions are asked of me. 

I understand they want to make sure the pet is being adopted into a good home.

But what  should I ask the staff about the pet?


By taking the time to know the background of your pet, you will better understand what to expect.

Consider your rescue pet carefully instead of simply adopting the cutest one that catches your eye.

With a little research, you will guarantee a good fit to your family and a lifetime companion.

What is the pet's


The shelter staff will do abehavior assessment to determine a dog's adoptability soon after arriving at the shelter. To get a better feel for their temperament ask ifyou can see the dog in a room or fences yard area away from the other shelter dogs.  If allowed, take him on a short walk and assess his leash manners.  Make a mental note of the dog's reaction to touch and sounds.

A dog's temperament will dictate the type of interaction you can expect from your pet on a daily basis so don't rush through this process.  A skittish dog that cowers from your hand will prove to be a real challenge for a busy house with frequent visitors.  However, the same dog may be self-confident around an older couple or individual.

Knowing their energy level is crucial to a smooth transition of bringing your new pet home.  If your family is active and spends a great deal of time outside then it's better to find a dog with a higher energy level that can keep up with yours.  On the opposite end, if your familyh spends most of their time at home in front of a computer or television, you'll want a low energy dog that will enjoy lounging around with you.


How long has the animal been at the shelter?

The longer a dog is at the shelter the more it will impact their emotional state. Some dogs react aggressively while others are withdrawn.   Cats naturally tend towards a sedimentary life style but they may develop a 'do not touch' attitude!  Our staff and volunteers walk the dogs and socialize the cats as much as possible to avoid the trauma of being isolated from people. The length of time it takes for this to affect the pet depends upon the  circumstances that brought them to the shelter as well as the temperament of the pet.  Just use this information as part of your selection process only.


Does the pet get along well with other dogs or cats?

Or children?

Many shelters have the ability to test dogs with other dogs as well as cats.  Even if you don't own other animals, it's a good idea to take advantage of this process.  Knowing how your pet will react to other dogs or cats when you're out walking around can save you a lot of stress and embarrassment later on. 

Additionally other dogs or cats can frequent every neighborhood.  You'll want to know if you can anticipate their behavior.

Some older animals may have come from a home with no children.  The energy level and unpredictability of of children's actions can be very stressful on new pets.  Always supervise children around unfamiliar animals.  Teach children to be aware of the feelings of the animals...for the safety of both child and pet!


Was the pet a 'Stray'

 or an 'Owner Release'?

For many people this questions may seem irrelevant when looking at shelter pets but the answer can help differentiate between a potentially unhealthy or unstable dog and a well-loved family member.  Not all strays have health issues and many of then are simply pets that got loose and were never re-claimed. 

The shelter staff screen and review each animal prior to placing it available for adoption.  Potential health, behavior, and emotional problems are observed and evaluated.  The staff will make recommendations as to the individual or family that could take care of an animal with these types of problems.


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