How to Choose a Shelter Pet

Meet your match at your local shelter!

Shelters are full of lovable dogs and cats of all ages, breeds, and sizes. About 25% of the dogs in shelters are purebred and the rest are a wonderful, unique mix. Many of the animals at shelters have already lived with families and have been given up for reasons such as allergies, financial burden, or a move. Whether they have lived with a family or have lived in the shelter most of their lives, many of these shelter pets are socialized and are just looking for a permanent forever home. Finding a companion that matches your lifestyle and family is easy if you consider the following factors.

Finding the Right Match
When choosing a shelter pet, consider the animal’s behavioral tendencies. Dogs and cats are typically categorized into various personality types based on their energy level and friendliness. Some shelters label them such as “Life of the Party”, “Busy Bee”, or the “Constant Companion.” The shelter team can help you identify what pet will best fit your lifestyle and family. You may even take an adoptive survey so the staff can learn about your expectations for the new pet and what role they will play in your life. Based on that, you will be set up with the best possible match. Many shelters use a program called Meet Your Match to help place you with the best pet for you. If your shelter doesn’t use that program, you can find the Meet Your Match adoptive survey online which will prepare you before you make a visit to the shelter. In addition, be sure you go to the shelter with questions to ask the staff.

Before You Go to the Shelter
Identify what would work best for you and your pet. Are you a single person looking for a dog who can go everywhere with you? Are you a parent looking for a pet who loves children? Are there other pets in your home? If so, how will they do with a new pet and how will the new pet do with them? What size pet would work best for your home? Prepare the list of questions and be sure to ask if the shelter has access to the animals’ history. If so, the staff can provide insight into the animals’ personalities.

During Your Shelter Visit
Walk through the kennels a few times and find a few dogs that appeal to you. Watch how they react to you and to the other people. Greet the dogs and look for signs of friendliness such as pawing, tail wagging, licking, wiggling, and pressing against the front of the kennel to get closer. Although they are a little more work, don’t rule out a dog or cat because they are a little shy. They could simply be stressed due to the shelter environment. Most animals do much better in a home environment. If a pet has recently been surrendered, they could be trying to adjust to the shocking life of the shelter. They just need a person like you to love and rescue them. Ask all of the questions you brought with you and ask the staff for their personal impressions of the dogs you are considering. Once you have a few top favorites, spend quality time with those animals. Many shelters will let you walk the dogs or play with the cats. Take advantage of all of the opportunities the shelter gives you to interact with the pet. Play with the pet as much as you can and discover their personality.

Use your head as well as your heart when making your choice. Adopting a shelter animal is very rewarding. When you do so, you give a deserving animal a loving home and, most of all, save a life. The adoption fee benefits the other animals at the shelter as well.

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  1. I adopted a mother/daughter pair last week from our local Rescue Shelter.I didn't have the heart to split them up as they have been through a lot in their lifetime.Moma Gracie and little Abby have brightened our lives over the last week, they fell right into our daily routine and we already love them.I wish I had the money and a large farm I would get them all LOL If you can't adopt then by all means take a donation of money , dog/cat food, littler anything would be appreciated

    1. Hi Mona, Thank you so much for adopitng Gracie and Abby, and not spliting them up. You're a good person! 🙂 I'm with you, I'd love to have an animal
      sanctuary and give a safe home for some many animals in need. All animals are precious. This is one of my favorite

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