This guide is written to help show first-time adopters what to expect when adopting an animal from a rescue shelter. It is written with regard to adopting a dog but many aspects of it relate to adopting other animals. (Shelter rules vary – some shelters only take certain breeds of dog, some inoculate animals etc.)
Do not expect to go to a shelter, find dog you like the look of and adopt it there and then. This may be disappointing but the shelters need to ensure the animal is going to a good home and will want to check a few things.
Most shelters will try to match the person to the dog – they more than likely will not let a frail eighty-year-old lady adopt an active dog!
Most shelters will perform a spot check on your house to ensure that you have a securely fenced garden and are a short way from suitable exercise grounds.
A good shelter will want to make sure the dog feels happy with you. This could mean that you visit the dog several times to make him/her feel at ease. This is especially the case if you have children – the shelter will want to see that the dog reacts well to them. Some do have a policy not to place rescued dogs with owners who have children under certain ages.
Dog rescue shelters will provide a history of the dog taken in if this is known. Many dogs are strays so this is often difficult.
Larger shelters may have a vet look at the dog and may vaccinate it. The vaccinations given are for the following dangerous infectious diseases:-
- canine parvovirus
- kennel cough.
Many larger centres will microchip dogs. This involves inserting a tiny microchip, smaller than a pea, under the dog’s skin. This chip holds the owner’s name and address and can be read by veterinary surgeons, the RSPCA and dog wardens who scan the dog – a bit like a baked bean tin at a supermarket.
Adoption fees vary and these are to cover the costs the centre has had in looking after the dog. The shelter may not have a fixed fee but ask for a donation.
A dog adopted from a rescue shelter can make a great pet and a companion for life.