Before You Adopt

Where do I start?

We recommend considering the following information to ensure adopting a pet is a positive experience and right for you. We’re confident you’ll find these important questions useful in helping you choose which kind of pet best fits your home and your lifestyle. Once you’ve read everything through, you can visit our pet listings on this website, visit the shelter to meet one of the many deserving pets seeking a loving home.

Things to consider when bringing a pet into your home:

How much do you travel?

Have a new job?  Want to see the world? Consider how much time you’re able to spend at home.  ALL pets need someone around to spend time with them. It’s important for puppies and kittens to have owners that are home to train and socialize them as they develop. Adult dogs and cats need people around to meet their basic daily needs and to avoid behavioral problems that can arise from loneliness or boredom.

Have you cared for a pet before?

If you’ve never had a pet, you can probably figure out the basics, but there are other things you’ll want to know before inviting a dog or cat into your home. Before you adopt, talk to people you know with pets to understand what’s involved. Perhaps offer to pet sit for few days to experience having an animal around.  And do talk to one of our adoption counselors to understand pet ownership.  We want you AND our pets to be happy together!

I want a dog – what size and breed is right for me?

Begin by exploring dog breeds in a book or online to understand size, breed requirements, and the pros and the cons of those that interest you most. Learn how different types of dogs interact with adults and children, whether they’re active and require lots of exercise, or prefer to be quiet lapdogs, whether they’re good in small spaces or need lots of room to roam.  Do they want to run all day, or enjoy an easy stroll? A mixed breed is exactly that, a mix of different breeds, so get to know your prospective pet on a one-to-one basis and ask lots of questions of your adoption counselor.  Is the dog well-behaved or does it require additional training? How does it relate to children and other animals?  Small dogs are can be easier to handle and adaptable to smaller spaces, but if they’re not well-trained and ever feel endangered, they may be more inclined to snap or bark than a big dog.  Larger dogs can be gentle giants, but can also be a handful on a walk.   Do you have the strength and energy to work well together?  With so many to choose from, there’s a breed for nearly everyone. And when you adopt, that’s a breed that’s loyal for life.

Are you up for exercise and clean-up after your dog?

No matter how big or small, calm or active your dog is, they’ll need to go outside for exercise and to relieve themselves at least 3-5 times a day – more if they’re a puppy in training. Dogs don't care if it is bright and sunny or raining "cats and dogs", when they need to go, they need to go!

Will shedding be a problem?

While dogs with hair don’t shed, and are ideal for those with allergies, many breeds of dogs - and all breeds of cats - shed fur. Some more, or less, than others, but they still shed. Traveling pet fur is to be expected which means cleaning will be a regular part of your daily routine.  Most people manage very well, but if you’re very particular about your environment, consider a dog with fur – or hit that PAWse button!

What if your furniture gets scratched?

Dogs can do damage – but cats are more likely to scratch. There are many ways to prevent a cat from scratching furniture but it still can happen. How will you feel? At RBARI we do not permit declawing a cat as part of our adoption contract due to the devastating effect it has on the health and well-being of the cat.  

Does anyone in your home suffer from allergies to animals?

Allergies are on the list of top reasons people surrender pets to shelters. Before adopting a pet, do make sure that you and anyone else in your home is not allergic. If you’re unsure, spend time with animals to see if you have a reaction to pet fur or dander (remember, dogs with hair are not likely to be an issue). You may also want to consider going for allergy testing before committing your heart and home to a new pet. If you’re mildly allergic and don't mind having a pet in the home, talk to an adoption counselor about breeds/types that are better for people with allergies.

Will your current pets accept a new member of the family?

Always consider your current pet(s) when bringing a new pet into your home. Some pets may not be happy with a newcomer. Many times current pets can exhibit bad behaviors as a result of the stress caused by a new pet. Usually these behaviors can be corrected with a lot of time and patience, but sometimes it just won’t work.  Some things to consider are: the age of your current pet - sometimes older pets don't want to be bothered with new, rowdy additions to the family. Adopting an older, calmer pet may be a better fit. How socialized are your current pets? Sometimes if they’re not well socialized with other animals, current pets may not accept a new pet into the home. Try socializing your current pet with a possible adoptee to see how they react to each other. If you have pets that already require a lot of attention and care, adding to you home may be too taxing.

Will a pet help teach my children to be responsible?

If done properly pets can be a great way to teach children responsibility. Unfortunately, if a parent isn’t committed to the process, it can result in pets being surrendered to a shelter. It’s important to recognize that children cannot be expected to be the sole caretaker no matter how much they promised they would!  Are you ready to pick up all the slack as the novelty wears off? A good way to teach children responsibility is to give them certain jobs that relate to pet care, such as feeding, providing clean water, brushing, and then follow up with them to make sure the job gets done.

Pets are like family members – they need healthcare too.  Can you be there for them?

While we all know that preventative care goes a long way in keeping your pet happy and healthy, it’s also important to consider the possibility that your pet can get sick and require more advanced care.  Committing to doing everything reasonably possible to help your companion in a time of need is part of the joy and responsibility of being a pet owner.

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