According to the ASPCA, every year almost 8 million cats and dogs are in shelters nationwide. We hope that when it’s time add a new pet to your family, you’ll seriously consider a rescue.

Although shelters often have puppies, it’s adult dogs and cats that need your help. Be aware that every rescue pet comes with a distinct personality and a unique life experience. Instead of just picking out an adorable dog or cat, have a serious conversation with the rescue personnel about what you’re looking for, and which pet may fit your family the best.

Here are some things you should know about shelter pets:

  • Most shelter animals are carefully vetted for health and behavioral traits. Follow the advice of the shelter personnel; they have a good handle on their tenants.
  • Most pets are not given up because there is something “wrong” with them. While some shelter pets have been in traumatic situations, most have not. Many pets are surrendered due to a previous owner “oops” like a landlord that says no to pets, a new baby, or an unexpected litter.
  • Be aware that many rescue organizations have long and involved adoption applications, but don’t be put off by this; they are ensuring they have found the right forever home for each pet.
  • When it comes to dogs, expect to see a lot of Pitt Bulls. They are the most common breed in shelters and often the most difficult to place. Most Pitt Bulls are delightful dogs and have a bad rap as aggressive.
  • Any shelter pet you bring home is going to need time to adjust; they are often scared and confused. Even if they seem fine the first week, depending on their history, it can take a couple of months for them to settle in.
  • Please don’t give your new pet access to your entire house; it can be overwhelming. Block off a smaller area for them to explore so both of you can get to know each other.
  • Separation anxiety often comes with a rescue pet, so take steps to show your new pet that although they were abandoned in their previous life, they have a forever home now. Keep their first days quiet, have some soothing music on, supply a variety of toys to chew and play with, and slowly build up to leaving them alone by going out for a few minutes and coming back. Gradually lengthening the time they are left alone. Please don’t make a big deal about leaving or returning – that clues them into the idea that being alone is something to worry about.

Go the distance with love and patience, and you’ll end up being a hero to your rescue pup or kitty.


[email protected] 202-854-1776