Adopting a new pet can be a wonderful and fun experience. Growing numbers of the GLBT community and beyond are looking to rescue organizations, instead of breeders or pet stores, for their animal companions. In fact, I adopted my own rescue, Armani, back in 2015 and I’ve never looked back [read “Armani Chose Me: A Rescue Story” in Lavender, Issue 523].
Adoption is a great way to ensure you’re providing an animal in need with a second chance—all while helping even more animals get the care they need. Adoption fees at rescues like Animal Humane Society (AHS) go back to helping the animals taken in each year, offsetting the costs of providing shelter, medical care, and behavior treatment to give animals in need a chance at finding a new home.
AHS Society takes in about 23,000 animals each year, with the majority being dogs and cats. But there’s a companion animal for everyone at AHS, as they take in a number of other critters such as rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, and domestic mice and rats. They’ll even have the occasional ferret, chinchilla, hedgehog, and bird looking for a new home.
“Pets give us lots of love, but they can be a lot of work too,” says Zach Nugent, AHS’s media producer. “When you’re looking to bring a new pet into your family, make sure everyone in your household is ready for that responsibility. From walks, to feeding, to cleaning up and training—there is some work involved.”
Of course, that work is rewarded by the love and fun your new companion is sure to bring into your home. But new pet owners should be prepared for the work that goes into caring for an animal—the main reason animals are returned to the shelter is because their owners weren’t prepared for the training and patience it takes to adopt a new pet.
“It’s good to remember that a pet is a long-term responsibility—this is a companion that’s going to be at your side for years to come,” Nugent says. “Have patience, set up a routine, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Animal Humane Society is here—we offer training classes, a Pet Helpline at 952-HELP-PET, and lots of behavior and training resources online.”
Nugent’s first bit of advice is to make sure you have all the initial supplies ready when you bring your new friend home, like food and water bowls, toys, and a litter box. Ultimately, being brought into a new space is going to be a big change for any animal, so be patient as your pet settles into their new home.
“I think more and more, especially in the Twin Cities, people are valuing shelter pets and animals that have been rescued,” Nugent says. “People recognize that there are so many animals in need and they want to help. They want to be able to give an animal a second chance and a fresh new start.”
Despite the growing love and awareness of rescue animals, Nugent says there are still misconceptions.
“One of the biggest myths we hear is that because an animal is in a shelter that means there must be something wrong with it—that couldn’t be further from the truth,” he says. “Animals can be in a shelter for a number of reasons, and just because they’re here doesn’t mean they won’t make terrific companions.”
This misconception often surfaces when older animals are involved. While puppies and kittens draw in the crowds and get adopted quickly, many senior animals are left seeking their forever homes—something that AHS knows all too well.
“There’s something special about an older animal, and we try to draw attention to that every opportunity we get,” Nugent says. “Often times we get people who come to our shelter to look at a puppy, but then they take a look around and fall in love with an older dog, and that’s wonderful. It’s all about finding the right fit and often times you just know who’s going to be your new best friend.”
Animal Humane Society has four locations throughout the Twin Cities metro area: Golden Valley, Coon Rapids, St. Paul, and Woodbury. AHS is a nonprofit organization that relies completely on donations and adoption and program fees. To learn more about AHS, visit www.animalhumanesociety.org.