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Welcoming a new pet: mindful adoption

Deciding to adopt a new pet is a big step, one that requires a lot of effort. Before picking out names and stocking your home with toys and treats, you’ll need to do some research. 

You’ll want to choose a pet that compliments you for the best match. Consider how big your yard or home is, how often your new pet will interact with other animals or small children, and how active you are. Certain breeds of dogs, for example, need lots of exercise and enrichment, while others are happy to curl up next to you on the couch. Knowing the personalities and characteristics that best align with your own is important as you search for the perfect pet. 

Beyond ensuring your new pet is a good fit for you, you’ll want to make sure you’re looking at reputable options for adoption. While adopting a pet from a shelter or rescue is a great option, it’s not for everyone. Researching where you are getting your pet will help you make the choice. 

Not sure where to start? Here are some tips and tricks on what to look for when adopting a pet and what to avoid. 

Local pet shelter

Local shelters are great options for those looking to give an animal a second chance. Shelters do their best to understand an animal’s history so they can find them a good home. Typically, you’ll avoid expensive medical costs as shelter pets tend to have recent vet checkups, are up to date on their vaccinations and have been spayed or neutered.

Shelters also have a selection from puppies and kittens to senior pets. Opting for an older pet means the shelter may have better insight into their temperament and personality, so it may be easier to match older shelter pets to your family.

However, pet adoption from a shelter may require frequent visits to find a pet that suits you, especially if you want to adopt a specific breed. Luckily, many shelters offer online catalogues of the pets in their care so you can keep up with potential adoptees. It’s a good idea to visit shelters and spend time with the animals to get a feel for how you get along. Remember that shelters require you to submit applications so they can ensure the best fit between the animals and new owners. Shelters may also require interviews before adoptions so they know it will be a good fit.

Private or charitable rescue organizations

Private rescues are a great local option, but you’ll need to find a reputable organization that offers what you want. Private rescues specialize in categories of pets. Some focus on rehoming senior pets or those with special needs that require more care and experience. Others may focus on specific breeds or sizes. Rescue organizations can also focus on retired working breeds or racers and pets rescued from puppy or kitten mills. 

The animals at private rescue organizations typically have some training and medical care. Plus, these animals may live with foster families while awaiting adoption, which means there is more insight into these pets’ energy levels and behaviours in a home setting, which will help you and the organization find the best fit. 

Private rescues often require you to apply for the pets you are interested in. They will also conduct interviews and often want to do a home visit so they can be sure you can offer the proper care and are the best fit for the pet you are interested in. The organizations often want to meet with your family and any existing pets you have to assess how the animal you are interested in will fit in.

Responsible breeder

Choosing the right breeder when adopting a pet can be difficult. Once you find a breeder specializing in the breed of animal you are interested in, you’ll want to look into the breeder’s reputation. Ask for other’s experience with a breeder and the pets they purchased. If you’re unsure if a breeder is responsible, turn to local and national kennel and breeder clubs. Organizations like the American Kennel Club (AKC) or the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) offer guidance and codes of ethics that breeders registered with those clubs must follow. Finding dog breeders and kennels on the AKC or the CKC registry is an excellent start toward choosing a responsible breeder. However, you should still pay attention to the breeder’s habits and the kennel conditions. Visiting the kennel lets you see how the puppies are socialized and cared for. It can also give you an idea of any future medical conditions, behaviours, or personalities your puppy may inherit. Visiting in person is vital to ensure the facilities are kept clean and to observe if the dogs are happy and well-socialized. Responsible breeders will specialize in one to two breeds and won’t overbreed mothers. It is also a best practice that puppies will be kept with the mother until fully weaned and kept with the breeder until they are at least eight weeks old. Additionally, it is best to keep the litter in the home to get used to the sounds within a household. Good breeders will give you paperwork on the puppy’s medical history and vet check-ups. They will also have a contract that lays out the responsibilities and expectations of both parties. While a breeder may not require interviews and home visits like a shelter or rescue organization, you’ll want to visit a few times to take in the conditions and spend time with the litter and your chosen puppy or kitten.

Online sellers and designer dogs

When looking for a new pet, choosing a local organization or breeder is always the best option, and designer dog breeders that import puppies should be avoided. These sellers often keep their dogs in bad conditions and use irresponsible breeding habits.

Many platforms like Kijiji have policies for online pet sellers to prevent irresponsible breeders and puppy mills from selling on their platforms. Facebook and Facebook Marketplace restrict the selling of animals and remove posts about adoption and sales. However, some irresponsible breeders and mills still slip through the cracks. If you choose to find your next pet online, it is up to you to ask the seller questions to ensure you get a healthy pet from a reputable source. 

When contacting a seller, do your best to assess why they are selling or rehoming a pet and establish their expectations and wishes. The Ottawa Humane Society recommends that you ask about the pet’s medical history and if they are up to date with their vaccinations. Does the seller have a good relationship with the animal’s current vet? Are they willing to send any medical documents so you have a record of any issues or health concerns? If possible, visit the owner’s home and clarify the pet’s energy levels and the care they have received. Make sure you are aware of the costs and fees involved and that you verify the seller’s identification. Have a contract that outlines the responsibilities and expectations of both parties and ensure the seller signs it. 

Rehoming a pet from an online seller can ensure a pet gets a new, loving home. However, check whether the seller has been a responsible owner to understand why they are selling or rehoming a pet.

Help protect your furry friends

Once you’ve found the right pet for you, it’s time for pet insurance. Did you know CAA Members save 13.5 per cent on pet insurance with Pets Plus Us*? Find out more about Pet Insurance by speaking with a representative or get an online quote.

*CAA Members receive a preferred rate of 13.5% off effective April 15, 2024. Non-members receive a preferred rate of 9% off effective April 15, 2024.

The information herein is summarized. All Pet Insurance plans have limitations and exclusions. Specific products, features, coverage limits, rates, and discounts may vary by province, eligibility, and are subject to change. Medical Conditions that are noted, symptomatic or diagnosed prior to enrollment, or during a waiting period are pre-existing to Coverage and not eligible for reimbursement. This advertisement is an outline only, the actual policy issued Terms and Conditions will prevail.

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