Adopting a Rescued Pet

Catherine Forman
March 23, 2006

Adopting a pet from an animal shelter or rescue group isn't as easy as going into the food store and picking out a new flavor of ice cream. Things are a little more complicated than that!


The first step is to make a visit to your shelter of choice. Plan on going just to look. Many shelters will not let you take an animal home the same day. There is often a waiting period while the staff checks vet references and even conducts a home visit to see if you have the appropriate space for a pet.

If there is a particular animal you like, you can have a little one-on-one time with them. For dogs, you'll often go outside to a play yard; for cats, you will probably get to meet them in a private room. Keep in mind that you are BOTH nervous. The dog or cat will be very excited to have the chance to stretch their legs a little, and may ignore you completely at first. They also may leap into your lap and slobber all over your face. I've had both initial reactions from dogs who eventually became members of the family.

If, after you meet the dog or cat, you decide that you would like to add them to the family, you have to fill out an application. Name, address, phone number -- all the basics. You may also be asked for a veterinarian reference, or even personal references! The questionnaire may ask about your daily routine -- who is home when, what hours would the animal be alone, when will it eat, where will it sleep.

When my family adopted our first dog, we waited three days after putting in the application. We were on pins and needles, waiting for a call. Finally, we called the shelter to check on the status of our application. Because it had been so long since we had owned a dog (almost fifteen years!), we had no vet references. The shelter was planning to turn us down, but changed their minds when our hopeful phone call showed them how dedicated we were to giving this dog a good home. My little fur sister came home to us the next day, and has been queen of the house for the last nine years!

Most shelters do ask for an adoption fee. Most shelters will require that you get your new pet spayed or neutered (if they aren't already fixed). And most shelters are overjoyed to see another resident have a second chance at a good home.

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I strongly recommend that anyone who is wanting to add a kitten or cat to their life, do so by adopting one from a shelter or rescue organization. I have done this often and have found the following tips helpful when bringing home a cat or kitten from a shelter.

A young tortiseshell kitten playing with a toy.

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When adopting a pet from the humane society, ask as many questions as possible, the animal's history, where it came from, etc.

Jake with info.

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2 of our 3 Boston Terriers are rescue dogs. The one on Freecycle was on a short leash and left in a plastic barrel outside. They are the most amazing animals. Our third Boston Terrier came from a female Boston Terrier, who died during birth.

3 black and white Boston Terriers on the lawn

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February 27, 2006

When bringing a rescued pet into your home be very aware of the subtle and sometimes not so subtle hints they give you. Our rescued Golden, Maggie was very fearful of loud noises, such as, thunder, firecrackers, shotguns, pans falling out of the cabinet, etc.

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While I have adopted great dogs from the animal shelter, many are released to the pound because they have severe behavior problems and are completely untrained. This is fine if you have time to work with a dog with behavior problems...

Picture of Mason.

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I see, that once again, I have a foster baby. His name is Elrod. He is is an adorable, incredibly intelligent three month old Pibble. which is short for Pit Bull mix.

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November 21, 2004

When considering pet adoption, consider your local animal shelter or a rescue association of some kind. The animals there are truly in need of a home and the adoption rates are much more reasonable than they are to buy through a breeder or pet store.

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We have adopted three rescued dogs in the last 15 years. The first one taught us a lot. She had been abused and was afraid of everything. She needed lots of patience and tender, loving care.

Small dog standing on lawn.

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

April 19, 2009

I am looking for a small dog to bring into our loving home. Anyone know where I could adopt one?

By Jamie from Allegany, NY


April 19, 20090 found this helpful

Check your local Animal Center. Be sure to take your kids and hubby! I once adopted a dog that didn't like men! So to be safe, ake the whole family and ask ALOT of questions about the dog before you take him home! ie: housebroken, food anxiety, men, temperment etc. They always act a little different in the shelter as they are scared. I always picked animals that walked up to my kids right away and loved on them! You can tell!

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April 19, 20090 found this helpful

Never buy from a pet store (they usually buy from puppy mills) buy frrom a breeder or go to a shelter or the humane society. ALSO, Use care when adopting an animal & be sure to choose one that fits your energy level. That means if you like to run, bike & throw Frisbees than you may want a "high energy" dog, whereas if you are a homebody like I am & don't get out much then be sure to pick a dog with an easygoing & very mellow disposition. Don't pick a dog by how cute they are. Look for they way they act & never choose a pet just because you feel sorry for them because you may end up with more problems than you can handle! Also, look for a shelter where you can take the dog on a walk first before you decide, that way you'll have an idea if it's meant for you & your family. If not, you may end up with problems!

Do your research on different dog breeds, some dogs are know for being stubborn & some like to chase or herd things, hounds make strange noises when they get excited & some dogs (like the cavalier king Charles spaniel are bred to be very mellow). If you know the breed you want, you can sometimes find a no-kill shelter devoted especially to that type of dog, be it dachshunds or pit bulls. Lots of tiny dogs have behavior problems, but it's only because they are spoiled (like children) by the owners. Be sure to give your new dog both love & discipline! The dog won't be happy unless you fulfill their needs. Be sure to take it on walks daily. The backyard isn't enough. If you don't want to walk a dog regularly, then you shouldn't get one. Dogs get bored if they sit around (just like people do!) & start tearing the place apart, etc. Anyway, these are some important things to think about!

Also, Most vet's have bulletin boards & there's lots of people these days that have to move into places where their pets can't come. These owners can tell you lots about their dogs & it's temperament, so think about calling around to vets & asking the receptionist to read you any pets for adoption on their bulletin boards. If you get a pet from someone like this you'll also know if they are good with kids or not & the owner can tell you all about them!

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April 20, 20090 found this helpful

We have a non-profit group in Erie county, PA ( not that far from where you live) that rescues small animals and finds homes for them. Their website is They have pictures of the animals available for adoption on their website. Good Luck!

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April 20, 20090 found this helpful

You can see a listing of animals to be adopted on You put in your zip code and it tells what animals are available for adoption. It is great!


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April 20, 20090 found this helpful

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Share on ThriftyFunCheck out these photos. Click at right to share your own photo in this page.

April 13, 2005

This is our "Dusty Dawg". We rescued him two years ago the afternoon before he would be to be "put down". He was a sad and skinny dog.

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September 26, 2016

This is a page about rescued dog has not warmed up to new owners. Choosing to adopt a rescue dog can have its challenges. These abused and neglected animals need lots of patience to become good household pets.

Scared dog hiding behind wall

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June 21, 2016

This is a page about rescued dog is afraid of everything. Rescued pets have often lived in terrible conditions and have suffered neglect or physical cruelty.

Scared Chihuahua against a white background

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