Understand Pet Adoption in 4 Simple Steps (So You Don’t Make a Mistake)

Pet adoption is an exciting time for a family, but understanding how to adopt a pet fully is important! So, before you head to the pet adoption shelters, animal rescues, look for adoption centers and services, or even spend time scrolling through endless pet adoption websites, read this first!

Understanding Pet Adoption boy holding a pug puppy wearing a bow tie

Before you get too far into adopting a cat or adopting a dog and start searching things like pet adoption centers near me or How do I adopt a puppy?, let’s take a closer look at some important things that you need to understand about dog adoption and cat adoption, having a successful pet adoption process, pet adoption services, and saving the lives of animals!



Let’s take a look at the steps for pet adoption!

Pet Adoption Do Your Research


It’s easy when you see a puppy or kitty and you’re all like AAHHHHHH! and the next thing you know you’re buying a pet bed and some fun cat toys or dog toys to go along with your new furry family member.


Before the fun, there are some important things you need to think about:

  • Does your apartment or rented allow pets?
  • Do you live in an area that restricts specific breeds? (BSL)
  • If you live in a house and have a fence without a yard, who will walk the dog?
  • Does anyone in your house have allergies?
  • Do you understand how much pet food will cost each month?

These are some reasons that people return pets to shelters, so be sure that you fully research the rules (especially if you rent) and that you’ve given this big decision lots of thought.

Find an Animal Shelter


Get started by searching the internet for an animal shelter near me.

This will give you a good idea what you have available to you for adopting a pet.

Understand, not all dog shelters are created equally. So, check social media and see the reviews and comments.

Also, visit several shelters in your area and talk to the people who work there and the volunteers.

Are the people nice?


Look at the kennels and cages.

Are they clean? Dirty?

Do the majority of the shelter animals appear sick or dirty or drugged?

Gut instinct on an animal shelter goes a long way! So, don’t ignore that “Something isn’t right . . . ” feeling if you get it.

Adopt a Pet


You’ve done your research and also picked an animal shelter.

Now, it’s time to find your new fluffy family member!

  • Read their kennel cards to get initial information about the animals. Are there any special needs or red flags for your family?
  • Don’t be afraid to meet more than one animal.
  • Spend some time taking the pet for a walk or playing with them.
  • REMEMBER: Some of the animals may be stressed in the rescue shelter, so take them outside and give them some time and understanding. Don’t just pass up a cat or dog because they don’t seem happy.
  • If you have kids, bring them so you can see how your potential pet interacts with them. (Also, you’ll want to do the same if you already have pets! Ask the shelter how you can introduce them to your current pets.)
  • Sleep on it, if needed! Don’t be afraid to leave without adopting a pet because you want to give it more thought. However, know that the pet you fell in love with may not be there if you go back at a later date.

Bring Your Pet Home



You’ve gone through all the steps and your adopted cat or adopted dog is finally in their new home.

But, what now?

IMPORTANT: The first thing you need to remember is that you and your pet will need an adjustment period.

If your dog doesn’t seem as fun as when you were at the shelter or your new cat doesn’t seem as friendly as you want a cat to be, remember that they’ve probably gone through a lot in the past few weeks (or months or years) in the shelter (and before).

Your new rescue pet may sleep a lot, or seem shy or squeamish, or may not eat or want to play.

Give your pet time and have patience.

They will need to adjust to you as much as you will need to adjust to them!

Get started with pet adoption today!

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