You have sat down and discussed the topic with your family, and you have made a final decision that you will bring a dog into your family by adopting one from a local animal shelter.

Adopting a dog is a great way to add a new loving member to your family and to also help out a dog truly in need. Dogs are given to animal shelters for a variety of reasons, and in most cases, the dogs in shelters just want to love and be loved in return.

But before you head out to the animal shelter, it’s important to learn what exactly you can expect from your visit. The following information will help teach you what you can expect when visiting an animal shelter.

Call ahead.

Before you get into the car, do some research on the shelter and find out when they’re open for viewing. Because shelters rely on volunteers and public donations, they may not be open for adoptions at all times during the day. The last thing you want to do is show up when nobody is there, so do yourself a favor and call ahead.

Be prepared to have a hard choice.

When you walk into the shelter, you are going to wish you could take every single one of those dogs home. You may think visiting the shelter would be easy, but it won’t be. Instead, you will have a very tough decision on your hands in order to choose which dog deserves to come home with you.

Be prepared for awful sights and smells.

Animal shelters do their very best to provide clean and healthy conditions for their animals, but there is often not enough volunteers to keep the place squeaky clean. In most cases, the dogs will be in cages, and it’s also likely that you may find urine and/or feces in the cage. If you make the shelter aware, they will clean it. This is not a sign of animal abuse—just a sign of a volunteer not having enough hands to tend to all the animals at once.

It’s important that you don’t let the sights and smells deter you, as all of these animals are well cared for in the shelter and simply want to find their forever home.

The adoption process may take forever.

Once you’ve made your final decision, you’ll need to go through the adoption process. This varies from shelter to shelter, but in most cases, the adoption process will take a very long time. You will be required to fill out a great deal of paperwork to prove your identity and where you live. Some may even do a background check on you.

Once the paperwork is filled out, the shelter may require a home visit to ensure that your home is a healthy and safe environment for the dog. While you may be put off, keep in mind the shelter has the dog’s best interest at heart and doesn’t want to see them return to the shelter. It is possible that they might recommend improved fencing for the safety of your dog. Do not be discouraged by cost as there are cost effective solutions.

Finally, there will typically be an interview with you and everyone in your household, including other pets, with the dog you wish to adopt. This gives the shelter the ability to see how you, your family and your pets interact with the animal.

Once you have made it through the interview process, you can take your new friend home.

Emily Grant writes about dogs, cats and animal behavior. She lives in Miami.

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One Response

  1. 1 Adrian Key
    2013 Jul 31

    Your article makes some excellent points in favor of adopting a dog from an animal shelter. As you point out, not all shelter dogs are from abused backgrounds. Many have actually come from loving homes whose owners have fallen on hard times. When people ask me how to find a good animal shelter to adopt from, I advise them to contact an organisation like the RSPCA or ASPCA. They will have lists of reputable shelters in your area.