So you’ve decided you want to adopt? Fantastic! Here’s a belly rub for you! Now you’ll need to go through a process.

Don’t worry, it’s not as painful as it sounds. I’ll spell out the steps. The steps are only there to help you make sure you’re doing the right thing for you and the animal you’re adopting. Your ‘first steps’ begin from choosing a shelter.

 How to Choose a Shelter

The easiest way to find an adoption center to adopt from is probably to go to your local shelter. In an earlier list, I’ve shared some resources to websites that help you find adoption centers.

Elsewhere I’ve also shared a list of Virginia’s best animal adoption centers. These lists should give you enough choice, to begin with.

Animal adoption centers provide assistance to animal lovers who want to take home a pet

If you know someone who has adopted an animal and they can’t stop talking about how happy they are, you can, of course, check out the center they’re raving about.

I think you should keep in mind, though, that finding the right lifelong animal companion is not easy, just as it’s not easy finding your life partner! It may take some time to match you with the right pet. If it’s a good center, someone will interview you and find out exactly what you want. If the adoption center doesn’t have your dream dog or dream cat at the moment, don’t be down. Most shelters will let you know as soon as it walks in their door.

The cruelest thing you can do is to return an animal to the shelter after having taken it home! This is why you absolutely must, must, MUST make sure it’s THE ONE before the animal goes home with you.

About the Application Process

Don’t be offended when the shelter asks you personal questions when you’re filling up your application form. They just want to make sure that the animal is going to a good home. If you’re being questioned about the living conditions that you’ll provide the animal with, don’t take it as an insult. Take it as a sign that the shelter really cares about animals, just like you do!

Be prepared to be asked about things like:

  • Your income – can you afford food, vet visits etc.
  • Whether you own your home. If not, is the landlord okay with pets?
  • Your pet owning history.
  • Where do you live – apartment, detached house etc.
  • Who lives with you – kids, other pets (and any vets that you know)
  • Will the animal sleep indoors, outdoors, in a kennel, with you on the bed…
  • How long will the animal be one its own at home when everyone is away

Don’t be offended if people from the shelter visit your home or ask you for references. They’re only doing a good job of making sure the animal will get a good home.

All dogs coming into the shelter are given the necessary vaccines

Clarify Everything

Don’t forget to ask questions in your turn. Ask them what the adoption fee includes – are vaccinations and spaying been covered? Has the animal been neutered or will the shelter do it later? What should you do if you can’t get the adoption to work out?

Most shelters will tell you something about your chosen animal’s habits, the care it needs, the food you should start it with. It’s good to keep giving it the food it’s been eating at the center. Eventually, you can change to something new if you want.

Finally, don’t be impatient! Give the new addition to your family lots of love, patience, and understanding! Some adoptions don’t work out because adopters have unrealistic expectations. Animals are like kids – they are not quick fixes for loneliness! They need affection, confidence, and patience!

That’s enough lecturing, then. If you think you can’t adopt, there are other things you can do to help. Read on!

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