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How to Adopt a Shelter Pet: 5 Tips for Adopting Pets

Content Specialist

Olivia Bornemeier, MBA

Thinking about adding a new furry friend to your family? Adoption is a special way to welcome new pets and give them a loving home. So, we are highlighting the ins and outs of how to adopt a pet.

In this article, we'll cover:

  • The pet adoption process
  • 5 tips for adopting a pet
  • Why we recommend adopting
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The pet adoption process

The pet adoption process

Unsure where to begin when it comes to adopting a pet? There are three aspects of pet adoption: Prepare, choose, and adopt.


Pet parents should prepare themselves, their family, and their home for their new furry friend. This process involves:

  • Pet-proofing your home
  • Researching breeds and animals
  • Talking to your family members about responsible pet parenting


Choosing which pet is right for your family shouldn’t be overwhelming. Whether you choose to adopt adult cats, adult dogs, puppies, or kittens, be sure you come prepared with the research you need to make a decision.

Before you decide which pet is your perfect match, spend time with the available animals you are interested in. All families are different, so be sure the dog or cat you adopt is the right pet.


Make it official and complete an adoption consultation at a local shelter. At the consultation, a caretaker will walk you through the medical history of the pet and answer any questions about veterinary care, lost pets, and pet parenting best practices.

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5 tips for adopting a pet

5 tips for adopting a pet

Every pet adoption looks slightly different. And, there are plenty of helpful pet resources for humans wanting to adopt a pet. Use these five tips to help you along the way.

1. Do your homework.

The truth is, owning a pet requires hard work and dedication. But, pet parenting is rewarding in many ways. There are some important questions you should answer before adding a pet to your family.

What kind of pet will be the best fit?

Some shelters only take in dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens, while some have other animals available for adoption. Decide which kind of pet is right for you based on:

  • Other pets you have at home
  • How much time you have for training
  • Your health and exercise habits
  • The size of your home and yard
  • Your desire for companionship

Different dog breeds have different personalities, sizes, and grooming and exercise needs. Not sure where to start? Check out our dog breed selector quiz.

Cat breeds also vary in characteristics like temperament, sociability, and training needs. To see which cat breed is right for you, take our cat breed selector quiz.

Can you afford a pet and adoption fee?

Most shelters have a process that involves a small adoption fee. Before you adopt a pet, be sure you can cover the cost of adoption.

Aside from a small adoption fee, pet owners have to spend money on essential supplies for their pets. To maintain your pet's health and wellbeing, you will need to budget for these items each month:

Does anyone in your home have pet allergies?

Pet dander causes allergies in most humans. If you or someone in your household has a cat or dog allergy, consider a “hypoallergenic" breed.

While most dog and cat breeds aren't 100% hypoallergenic, there are some breeds that produce less dander than others.

2. Pet-proof your home.

Pet parents should dog- or cat-proof their house to keep their new pet safe. To pet-proof your home, be sure to do the following:

  • Put away any dangerous chemicals
  • Get rid of poisonous plants
  • Keep human food and medications out of reach
  • Hide breakable items
  • Cover electrical cords and outlets
  • Store away trash cans
  • Buy a scratching post
  • Provide plenty of toys

3. Research local shelters and rescues.

Once you decide what kind of pet is the best fit for your household, see if your local shelter has any available pets. Most local animal shelters advertise their adoptable pets online, but shelter pets can be adopted quickly. Consider visiting in person to see your options.

Some dogs and cats at shelters are part of foster programs. If you are interested in a foster dog or cat, follow instructions in the pet's profile to schedule a meet and greet.

4. Spend time with different pets at the animal shelter.

We recommend spending at least one hour with potential pets at the shelter. Spending more time with them will ensure you are ready to bring home your new BFF.


Pets enter shelters for different reasons. Talk to the animal caretaker at the shelter about the background of each dog or cat to ensure they are the right fit for you.

5. Be sure your new pet has age-appropriate vaccinations.

Depending on your new pet's age and background, they may have had spay or neuter surgery, other surgeries, and vaccinations. The animal shelter should have health records on file for your new dog or cat.

For more tips, check out these resources for pet owners from the Humane Society.

Why we recommend adopting

Why we recommend adopting

Adopting dogs and cats may seem overwhelming. However, shelter and rescue groups can provide advice for owners bonding with their newly adopted pets. And, many organizations offer free behavior support for adopted animals.

Adding a new furry friend to your family is exciting. Be confident during the adoption process and make sure you and your family are ready to bring a shelter pet into your loving home.


Meet Olivia Bornemeier

Olivia Bornemeier is a copywriter and photographer by day, dog mom by night to her red lab, Hank. With an MBA from Augustana University, she conducts intentional research and crafts meaningful content to help pet parents stay educated on all things pet wellness.