This week we're answering questions and rounding up resources on all things adoption! While we focus mainly on the ins and outs of adopting a cat or dog, did you know that you can adopt virtually any kind of pet? Horses, goats, chickens, chinchillas, ferrets, rats, guinea pigs, hamsters, parrots, snake, turtles, lizards... unforeseen life circumstances mean that any kind of pet can suddenly wind up without a home. If you're interesting in adopting a pet like this, your local humane society can point you to a variety of animal rescues operating in your area. If you're looking for more information on adopting a cat or dog, keep reading!
Adoption success stories (left to right): Neeko & Rhubarb, Sally, Casper & Balou.
What does it mean to adopt a pet, anyways?
When you adopt a pet, you're making a commitment to care for that animal for the rest of its life. Dogs and cats both have a lifespan that can stretch 15-20 years, so committing to a pet is a big decision that should be considered from many angles.
How is adopting a pet different from buying a pet in a pet store or from a breeder?
According to data gathered by the Humane Society, it's estimated that 2.4 million unwanted (but adoptable) cats and dogs are unnecessarily euthanized every year in the United States, simply because there is not enough room for them in the nation's shelters. When you adopt a pet, you're giving one of those unwanted pets a second chance at life. Plus, you're freeing up room in a shelter or foster home for another animal to receive the care it needs to find a family. Buying from a breeder or a pet store doesn't help tackle the pet overpopulation problem, and may even support inhumane practices like puppy mills (factory-style dog breeding operations that prioritize profit over their animals' health, well-being, or temperament).
Why do rescues and shelters charge an adoption fee?
The adoption fee typically covers the cost of the basic veterinary care necessary to help that pet become adoptable. This care usually includes spay/neuter surgery, vaccinations, deworming, and microchipping. Remember that most rescue organizations are non-profits, operating primarily on donations and volunteer support. Adoption fees ensure these groups are able to continue their work in your community.
What’s up with #adoptdontshop?
The hashtag calls attention to the problem of pet stores and individuals selling puppies from puppy mills. People and organizations who use this hashtag hope to end the practice of puppy mills by encouraging people to adopt from a shelter instead of buying from a pet store that supports these operations. The hashtag seems to be helping, too: many pet stores like PetSmart, Petco, and B&B Pet Stop now partner with rescue groups to house adoptable cats and dogs.
Yikes! So does that mean pet breeders are bad?
Responsible, reputable pet breeders can be a good option for some families who desire a specific pet breed or who want the guarantee of a certain demeanor in their pet. For more details on how to determine if a breeder is responsible, check out this article from The Humane Society.
What if I‘m looking for a specific pet breed - do I have to go to a breeder?
Not at all! If you have your heart set on a specific dog or cat breed, there is very likely a rescue group that specializes in finding and rehoming those animals. Keep in mind that plenty of purebred animals end up in shelters when their owners can no longer care for them or simply get tired of them. Talk to your local ASPCA or humane society for some breed-specific rescue in your area or do a quick Google search to find some nearby.
There are just so many animals available in rescues or shelters near me - how do I find the best pet for my family?
Talk to the rescue! Don't forget that until a pet finds their forever homes, the staff and volunteers of a rescue group are the pet's family. We know them better than anyone else! Most rescue groups include some sort of survey on their adoption application to get a better idea of the type of pet you're looking for. A high-energy running buddy? A laid-back babysitter for the kiddos? Answering these questions in detail and/or talking with a staff member helps the rescue point you towards the pets in their care that best fit your criteria.
Will my rescue pet have behavioral issues?
Many pets who end up in shelters do so through no fault of their own. Maybe their owner passed away, moved to a new place, or is experiencing financial hardship and can no longer provide care. New pets or children are added to the family and older pets are surrendered to a shelter. Cute little puppies grow bigger than expected and are no longer a good fit. Pets like these often have no problems living in a home, they were simply no longer wanted. If possible behavioral issues are a concern, make sure to discuss these with the rescue staff so they can help you find a pet that's a good match for your family.
Why should I consider adopting an adult or senior pet?
While puppies and kittens are definitely adorable, they are also giant question marks: no one can say exactly how big they'll grow, what health issues they may have, or what their personality will be like as they mature. Adopting an adult or senior pet dog limits the surprises you'll encounter down the road. An adult or senior pet has already grown into their full size and has formed a definable personality. Even better? Many adult pets already have experience living in a house, and they may already have basic training under their collars.
That's totally fine! Adopting a pet can be a long-term commitment, so it's good to be honest if you're not quite ready. There are still many ways you can "test the waters" of being a pet parent while also helping pets in need. If you just want to spend more time around pets, sign up to volunteer at a local animal shelter. If you want a short-term house pet, consider fostering pets while they await an upcoming transport or recuperate from a spay/neuter surgery. Read more about fostering pets in last week's blog post. You can also reach out to any of the rescue groups we list below to learn about more ways you can support their work without adopting a pet (just yet)!
Adoption Pros & Cons
All things in life carry certain risks and rewards, and adopting a pet is no exception. In our experience, however, the rewards of adopting a pet far outweigh the risks :)
Rewards of adopting
Adoption gives a pet a second chance at life, often saving them from unnecessary euthanasia.
Adopting a pet helps reduce pet overpopulation - it may only make a small dent in the issue, yes, but every little bit helps!
Adoptions support organizations that serve your community through education & outreach efforts, spay/neuter initiatives, animal control measures, and low-cost clinics.
Adopting a pet frees up space for another pet to be rescued, vetted, and prepared for their forever home.
Risks of adopting
Rescue animals may have an unknown past. Without any background information on a rescue pet, it can be harder to anticipate potential health or behavioral problems down the road.
Rescue animals with physical or behavioral carry-over from an abusive past can hard to integrate into a family or home setting.
Feeling the need to study up on the adoption process before you take the plunge? We've compiled some great resources below to help prepare you for a successful adoption experience.
Comprehensive Pet Adoption Guide - If you're looking to really explore the topic of pet adoption, check out this knowledge base from the folks at PetFinder. They provide a very thorough list of topics to consider, from how to know if you're ready to make the commitment to finally bringing home a new pet. They even cover what to expect in the first 30 days of life with your new addition as well as basic training for dogs and cats.
Top Reasons to Adopt a Pet - Not convinced there are enough benefits to adopting a pet? You don't have to take our word for it! The Humane Society covers 10 great reasons to make adoption your first choice for expanding your pet family.
The Best Questions to Ask When Adopting a Pet - If you're heading into your first adoption experience but not sure what to ask rescue or shelter staff, look no further for some excellent insights! Pet Life Today shares the wisdom of 30 pet experts so you can make sure you ask the important questions during the adoption process.
Adoption Tips - The ASPCA has created this great one-page rundown of considerations and tips for a successful adoption experience. If you don't feel like perusing lots of lengthy articles on the subject, start here.
Dog Adoption Checklist - Before you adopt a dog, review this checklist by PetFinder to see if you and your family are ready. This list covers the emotional, physical, and financial considerations of life with a dog, plus a handy shopping list of necessary supplies.
Cat Adoption Checklist - Before you adopt a cat, review this checklist by PetFinder to see if you and your family are ready. This list covers the emotional, physical, and financial considerations of life with a cat, plus a handy shopping list of necessary supplies.
Adoption success stories (left to right): Rikki, WaLily, and Casper.
Adopt from a Local Rescue Group
Interested in adopting a pet, but not sure where to go? Our handy list of local animal shelters and rescue groups is a great place to start! Keep in mind that the majority of these organizations are run exclusively by volunteers so it may take time for them to get back to you. If you are looking for a nearby breed-specific rescue, the Mobile SPCA is a wonderful resource. A quick Google search should also point you in the right direction :)
Alabama Animal Welfare Coalition - The Alabama Animal Welfare Coalition is a non-profit, foster-based rescue serving the Mobile area. Founded in 2012, they offer low-cost spay/neuter for dogs and cats as well as a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program for feral cats.
Animal Rescue Foundation - The Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) of Mobile is a non-profit, adoption guarantee shelter serving the Greater Mobile area. Founded in 1995, ARF relies on a strong volunteer base and an active foster program to re-home abandoned animals. Their shelter facility on Rangeline Road houses both cats and dogs pulled from city shelters or brought to ARF as strays.
Azalea City Cat Coalition - The Azalea City Cat Coalition is non-profit, volunteer-based feline rescue organization serving Mobile and Baldwin counties. They specialize in solutions for feral and community cats, including low-cost spay/neuter programs as well as TNR services.
City of Mobile Animal Shelter - Located on Owens Street, the city shelter serves all areas within Mobile city limits through the enforcement of leash laws, investigation of animal cruelty cases, and provision of care for lost/stray/abandoned pets. Many area rescues pull adoptable pets from the city shelter, but you can also adopt a pet directly from them.
Friends of the Mobile Animal Shelter - The Friends of the Mobile Animal Shelter strive to improve the quality of life for the dogs and cats housed at the City of Mobile Animal Shelter. They are always looking for foster homes for adoptable dogs and cats that are stressed by a shelter environment.
Krewe de Rescue - Founded in 2013, Krewe de Rescue is a non-profit, foster-based rescue that strives to unite area organizations to network high-risk animals. Krewe de Rescue is located in Mobile, AL, and serves both dogs and cats.
Mobile Cat Society - The Mobile Cat Society is a non-profit, foster-based feline rescue serving Mobile, AL. They offer low-cost spay/neuter for rescues as well as TNR services for feral cats.
Mobile County Animal Shelter - Located on Howells Ferry Road, the Mobile County Animal Shelter is the physical intake shelter for Mobile County Animal Control. In addition to picking up strays, the MCAS also accepts owner surrenders at their facility. Many area rescues pull adoptable pets from the MCAS, but you can also adopt a pet directly from them.
Mobile SPCA - The Mobile Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is a non-profit, adoption guarantee humane society that houses dogs and cats in their facility on Zeigler Circle. Founded in 1885, the Mobile SPCA is Mobile's oldest animal shelter. In addition to foster and adoption programs, they also offer spay/neuter assistance, pet food assistance, adoption counseling, and emergency preparedness resources.
Project Purr - Project Purr is a non-profit feline rescue with a "free-range" adoption center on Cottage Hill Road, where cats live together in rooms, instead of in individual cages. Project Purr focuses on pulling adoptable cats and kittens from local shelters and providing them with a loving environment while they wait for forever homes.
Save A Stray - Save a Stray is an all-volunteer, foster-based rescue group serving the Mobile, AL area. They are dedicated to helping local cats and dogs through foster/adoption services, spay/neuter initiatives, feline TNR, and organized transport efforts.
Third Coast Animal Rescue - Third Coast Animal Rescue is a non-profit, foster-only rescue group based in Mobile, AL, and serving the greater Gulf Coast area. They specialize in rescuing dogs and are always in need of foster homes.
🐾 And that's everything you need to know about pet adoptions! Do you have an adoption success story you'd like to share? Tell us how adopting a pet changed your life for the better in the comments below.