Think You're Ready to Adopt a Pet? Ask Yourself These Five Questions First

Adopting a pet
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We get set in our ways as we age, and that’s true of social movements, not just people. Things that worked in the past tend to be repeated, even if times change and new strategies are required to achieve the same goals. I see a lot of old thinking when it comes to pet adoptions, especially with regard to the “never adopt when/if …” rules that were well-meaning for their time but need to be examined against what we know now about how to get pets from the cages of a shelter to the couches of people who will love them for life.

I’ve written about these before, about troublesome old chestnuts such as never allowing the adoption of black cats near Halloween, or never arranging an adoption as a gift. The nearer we get to Christmas, the more “never adopt” rules I’ll see about the holidays, and I disagree with these blanket condemnations as well.

Never Say Never

The key here is “blanket condemnations.”

Every pet deserves a good home, but too many shelters and rescue groups insist on prejudging potential adopters. That’s not only unfair to the adopters, but it’s really sad for the homeless pets who may be missing out on the perfect home just because sensible adoption guidelines somehow become iron-clad rules. Yes, we all want what’s best for homeless pets, and yes, shelters and rescue groups do need to make the welfare of their animals a priority. But for every rule, I can think of an exception, and a little flexibility can mean a home for life for an animal who may be running out of options.

But What Should Adopters Consider?

Even as I encourage shelters and rescue groups to consider potential adopters as individuals, I think it’s just as important for people looking to adopt to be realistic and responsible. Which is why I encourage people who want a pet to listen to their head as well as their heart before they run to their local shelter or start cruising the listings on Petfinder. Specifically, here are five questions to ask yourself before considering adoption.

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