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Want to Rescue an Animal?

Dawn Allcot
Oct. 6, 2014

Rescue an animal, welcome love into your family and save a life. What could be more wonderful? Just make sure you are prepared.

Adopting a pet is a wonderful way to share your family's love with another living being. Rescuing a cat or dog from a shelter also saves lives.

But you should not take entering into pet ownership lightly. It's a long-term commitment with several things to think about before you bring home your newest family member. Ask these questions before committing.

  1. How Much Will It Cost?
    Some municipal shelters offer free or low-cost adoptions, or may simply request a donation of anywhere from $10 to $100. This cost doesn't include basic vet care, however, or any special treatments the animal may require.

    "The main risk with adopting a dog from most municipal shelters is that many do not have budgets to assess the dog's health and treat any issues they find," says Kristie Wilder of Life Is Labs Rescue in Georgia.

    She suggests going through a rescue group, which often assumes the risk of getting the dogs healthy and ready for adoption, including things like vaccinations, spaying and neutering. The cost to adopt a pet from a rescue group can also vary, and can range from $250 and up.
  2. Are There Other Costs Involved?
    Also consider long-term costs, which include food, toys, hiring a pet sitter or boarding your pet if you want to go away and veterinary care.

    To cover the latter, Paula Krenkel of Pet Rescue in New York highly recommends pet insurance. "A simple plan that just covers catastrophic illness or injury can be affordable," she says. "Other plans can also cover annual vet care, dental cleanings and more. Most dogs have some major vet incident at some point in their lives that can run into thousands of dollars. I don't know anyone who has regretted purchasing pet insurance."
  3. What Are the Challenges of Caring for a Rescue?
    When rescuing a pet, there are other needs to consider that are less tangible than standard supplies. Rescuing a pet can be a difficult, yet rewarding experience. "Generally the rescue is a bit older," Krenkel explains. "It may take more training to develop skills and it may take longer to socialize dogs left in shelters."

    In addition to the supplies that all pets need, rescue animals may require more training, patience and time than pets that come from other sources. Some animals may have been abused or neglected, and as a result may take extra attention to transition into family life.
  4. What Type of Pet Should You Get?
    It's important to consider not only your family's lifestyle when selecting a pet, but also the individual temperament of each animal. "People usually fall in love with a picture or kind of dog. It is important to be able to talk to the rescuer or group about temperaments of breeds and about specific critters," Krenkel says. Keep an open mind when adopting a pet.

    Look online and research animals that fit your family, such as these 10 Great Dog Breeds for Children. "But keep in mind that not every [animal] 'reads the book,'" shares Wilder. "Just because a dog is a Labrador Retriever, for instance, does not mean it will behave and interact according to what you read." Talk to the people at the rescue groups or shelters and meet the prospective animals.
  5. Is Your Family Ready?
    Adopting a pet means welcoming a new member into your family. Wilder urges prospective owners to consider whether you're willing and able to provide the daily care a pet needs. Animals require attention, activity and exercise. They also need training and boundaries to be good family members. "Some of this takes time; some of it also takes money. Bringing a new companion into your home should never be a decision that's taken lightly."
  6. Where Should You Find Your Pet?
    Prospective pet owners have several choices for adoption, including rescue groups, no-kill shelters or shelters that euthanize animals when the shelter runs out of space. Wilder advises prospective pet owners to steer clear of breeders or pet stores to adopt a pet, but says the choice of shelter doesn't matter. It's the choice to rescue an animal that's important. "Going to any shelter or rescue group will save a dog, period."


Dawn Allcot is a freelance writer, blogger and mother of two humans and three cats. Her family doesn't adopt cats; they just tend to show up on the doorstep and become part of the household. 

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