Every year, about 6.5 million pets enter animal shelters nationwide. And, many of these pets are in the shelters through no fault of their own.

If you’re searching for a new pet, adoption is a terrific option. Animals in shelters are usually spayed or neutered, current on vaccinations, and microchipped. Many are house-trained and have been evaluated by shelter staff, so you’ll have a good idea if the pet you are considering adopting is good with cats, dogs, or children.

But, adopting isn’t as simple as walking into a shelter and choosing the first dog or cat that catches your eye. Here’s everything you need to know before you adopt.


Before you adopt

Walking into an animal shelter can be overwhelming. Each dog and cat you pass by looks at you longingly and seems to be “the one.” Before you make any emotional decisions, sit down with your family and make sure everyone is on the same page. Answer these questions before heading out the door:

  • Dog or cat? Research the upkeep and needs of the species you want to bring home.
  • Young or old? Do you want to commit the next 15 years to a frisky kitten or playful puppy? Or, would you prefer a pet that is already trained and ready to be a more laid-back companion?
  • Lazy or athletic? Do you want a pet that will curl up next to you and binge watch a Netflix series? Or, are you looking for a hiking buddy that can share your tent on the weekends?
  • Clingy or aloof? Just like people, some pets desire more social interaction than others. Dogs tend to stick with their owners quite a bit, but cats can also demand attention. Shelter staff can point you in the right direction of the personality you’re looking for.
  • High maintenance or easy going? While a giant, fluffy dog is a gorgeous sight to behold, are you ready to deal with the grooming that comes with it? Maybe you would prefer a short-haired breed with minimal brushing instead.
  • Apartment or yard? Some pets may be fine living in tiny apartments, while others need wide-open spaces to run. If you’re living in a studio apartment, a high-energy Labrador puppy, capable of reaching 80 pounds, may not be the best choice.


The adoption process

Once you’ve decided what kind of pet you’re looking for, it’s time to meet potential matches. Follow these steps when adopting a new pet:

  1. Before checking out local shelters, verify that your current pets are up-to-date on vaccinations.
  2. Set your home up for your new pet. Litter boxes for cats, leashes and collars for dogs, cages for hamsters, or heating for reptiles should be in place before bringing your new pet home.
  3. Load up the whole family to meet potential pets. Nobody wants to be left out on this exciting day!
  4. Fill out necessary paperwork or questionnaires the shelter provides. Once the shelter staff knows your lifestyle and what you’re looking for, they can point you toward finding the perfect match.
  5. Learn about the potential new pet. Often, you can find out why an animal was surrendered, whether she was a stray, her approximate age, and her personality characteristics.
  6. Meet your new furry friend! Play and interact with each pet that suits your family to find the one that “clicks.”
  7. Once you’ve discovered your match, you may be able to take your new pet home that day. If you have a current pet, the two may need to be introduced to ensure they will get along before going home. Sometimes, your new pet may need to be spayed or neutered before going home as well.


Local animal shelters

While you can search for the perfect pet hundreds of miles away online, here are a few animal shelters local to Citrus Heights:

And, if you’re looking to adopt a specific breed, there are many breed-specific rescues with purebred pets who need to find their forever homes, too.

Looking to add a new pet to your family? Give us a call at 916-726-2334 for answers to your questions about finding your perfect match.