Before You Adopt

Are You Ready?
Adoption is a Commitment

Adopting a dog or cat is a big commitment, and it’s for that animal’s whole life, which can be 10-20 years! Make sure that you’re ready for the commitment BEFORE you adopt a pet, so that you’ll be less likely to find yourself in a situation facing possibly having to give your pet up. According to the ASPCA, the national average for adopted pets being returned to the shelter is about 6 percent. There are a number of reasons that a pet might get returned, but we’ve listed a few of the most common. We’ll also discuss how to prevent each of these reasons from happening to you.

Is Adoption right for you?

Common Reasons For Return

Family is moving and can’t take pet with them
As we mentioned above, adopting is a long-term commitment. If you aren’t sure where you’ll be living in a few years and there’s a good chance you won’t be able to find housing that will accept pets if you move, now may not be the right time to adopt. Consider fostering until you’re sure of what your living situation will be.

Family can’t afford pet’s care
It’s a good idea to do your research before you adopt to see the average costs for the type of pet you’re considering. Be sure to factor in initial costs like spay/neuter, microchip, and vaccinations (all those are included in HSMSC’s adoption fees), ongoing heartworm/flea/tick preventative, annual vet exam and vaccinations, pet food, litter box and cat litter (if applicable), toys, bedding, kennel if needed, and pet sitter or boarding while you travel, etc. These are all the routine, expected expenses, but don’t forget about the unexpected expenses! Consider starting a savings account for your pet and putting away a small amount every month to cover any major unexpected vet bills that may arise. If you don’t have enough cash on hand to cover a major pet medical expense, you may be eligible for a Care Credit card, which many veterinary clinics accept. You can also check out our resource of financial assistance for pet owners.

Not enough time for pet / Not enough room for pet
Make sure you choose the right pet for your lifestyle. Talk with our adoption counselors about what your lifestyle realistically includes. If you don’t get much exercise and don’t plan to add daily walks or runs to your schedule, then a young, active dog may not be the best fit for you. If you are a social butterfly and want your dog to go everywhere with you, then a shy dog may not be the best fit for you. There are a lot of things to think about, and our adoption counselors can talk with you about your lifestyle and your living situation and help you decide what pet will be the best fit

Pet is destructive in the house
This is where exercise, toys, and training come in! Make sure you know how much exercise a potential pet needs and how much you’re willing and able to offer. Regular exercise helps expend energy that otherwise may be used chewing furniture, scratching curtains, etc. You should also be sure to offer appropriate toys to your pet, paying special attention to enrichment toys and toys that stimulate the mind, like rubber Kong toys. Finally, every pet owner (even cat owners!) should incorporate positive reinforcement training into their pet’s lives. Training even basic obedience has benefits beyond just learning to sit or stay; it teaches them impulse control. And helping your pet attain impulse control will make your live a lot easier!

Pet is not house-trained
Our staff can give you a pretty good idea of whether a dog is house-trained, but it can be hard to say definitively while he is living in a shelter environment. Check out these tips for housetraining an adult dog and a puppy.


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