Guide for First-time Pet Adopters
Being a pet photographer, I know how many of you feel passionate about adopting your animals. I also often get request to volunteer my time by taking portraits of adoptable animals or donate a package to help raise money for the organization. It may surprise you to learn that I don’t always say yes.
Here’s why…When I adopted my guy, Fred, I was told by the adoption agency, “Fred is really nervous around people, he was actually kept in a cage for several years after being rescued off the streets of Brooklyn as a baby.” I was heartbroken. How could anyone do such a thing? A few months later, I learned that it was board member of the rescue who was involved with it. And, if you can believe it, she was still on the board.
Because of this, I now have specific questions I always ask and attributes that I look for in a rescue agency. But if you’re a first-time adopter, how would you know where to begin? Well, this month I asked two of my favorite pet small business owners to weigh in – Marghaerite LaMorte from Pawsitive Vibes and Amanda Gyetvay from Pawtecting Paws. Below is what they had to say.
Margherite LaMorte- Founder Pawsitive Vibes and volunteer at AMA Animal Rescue Brooklyn, NY
Having volunteered at animal shelters and also having adopted my pets from animals shelters, I’m happy to share these strategies for finding a rescue to work with.
Once you’ve identified the rescue you want to work with, fill out an application and give them some general parameters about what you’re looking for (adult male cat, Pittie puppy, etc.). Keep the list general. Then, ask to visit the shelter so you can interact with several animals. In many cases the animal you choose will be the one that you connect with and speaks to your heart.
Another reason to not to go in with a specific animal in mind is that animals behave very differently in shelter environments than they do when they’re in a relaxed home environment. That dog you thought was a little too energetic was just sitting in a cage too long and needed to expend some energy. That cat you thought was timid was just scared of kids tapping loudly on the glass when she was trying to sleep.
Here's how my adoption experience went with my first cat:
I was adamant that I wanted a female Tuxedo kitten. My nephew had just come to visit with his Tuxedo kitten Selina Kyle and I wanted a cat EXACTLY like that. (I actually wanted Selina, but I couldn’t convince him to give her up. Go figure.).
I trolled the usual online sites like Petfinder, Adoptapet etc, looking for the perfect cat. Lots of research, phone calls and visits later, I found the perfect Tuxedo kitten. I filled out the paperwork and expected to take her home the next day, after her last vet appointment.
The next day, after her vet visit, the rescue informed me that she had a heart condition and they were not going to adopt her out until she got the care she needed. That could take weeks.. or years. (another sign of a good rescue – they want to do what’s best for the animal).
To console myself, I visited another rescue to get an emotional fix. While there, I interacted with a gray and white male kitten. At 3 months old he was already a large boy. He climbed up to my neck and started licking me. I FELL HARD. I completed the paperwork, they did the reference checks, and five hours later we were driving home. So instead of a little Tuxedo girl, I wound up with a big gray boy. And he’s the love of my life. Once I allowed my heart to lead, the rest fell into place.
Amanda Gyetvay - Founder Pawtecting Paws
What To Look Out For When Adopting From Rescues:
It is so important to ensure that you are:
A good rescue is going to ensure of this and will turn down anyone they feel would not be a good fit for their available animal. First thing first, you should be filling out a form online for the animal you are interested in adopting. Although this may be a LONG form to fill out, it is great because it shows the rescue truly cares about the animal being placed in the right home and that you are not going to harm the animal in any way.
Some questions you should consider asking the shelter:
Some things to watch out for in iffy rescues/shelters:
Some things to look for in GOOD rescues/shelters:
We have been in business for a little over a year and have given back to over a dozen rescues whether it was a monetary donation, products (such as treats, toys, blankets, food, etc), and have hosted an event that raised over $15,000 for a local rescue!
We are so grateful for rescues such as: Brick City Rescue, Pawsaver Rescue, Priceless Pet Rescue, No More Pain Rescue, Twenty Paws Rescue, Shore Saves Rescue, All 4 The Dogs Rescue, Taking Care of Paws Rescue, and all the amazing rescues out there who DO RIGHT by the dog/cat/animals they are taking in and finding the PAWfect homes for!