It can be overwhelming when you get to the shelter and meet your new best friend. Here are six things to ask before you adopt a pet.
Do they have any health problems?
This is the most crucial question you could ask. If your prospective pet needs medications or therapy, you need to know as soon as possible, so you can decide whether you can take this pet on or not. It's better for both of you if you move on quickly when it doesn't work out. However, if the problem is very temporary, inexpensive, or will have been handled entirely by the shelter before you take her home, you may still want to adopt them. Or, you may have the funds to medically care for the pet, in which case, knowing this information, is still helpful.
What kind of food are they currently eating?
When you get a new pet, one of the kindest things you can do for them is giving them the same food they were eating before for a few days. It may seem silly to you, but it can make all the difference in the world to them. Some shelters will provide you with a few meals worth of the pet's current food, but it's best to check in advance, in case you need to buy some yourself.
What is their temperament like?
If you have children or other pets, you will need a relatively calm companion who is not easy to rattle. You'll also want to know reasonably early on whether the cat you want is going to suit your tiny apartment, or whether she needs a larger home. Find out if the pet you're viewing is suitable for your lifestyle and if you are right for her needs.
Which commands do they know?
It's important to know what you're getting into before you're committed to an pet. You need to find out if the pet is housetrained, and what specific words she knows, especially with a dog. If you bring a dog home who responds beautifully to 'Stay' but you're expecting her to 'Wait,' there will be confusion and distress on her part. Likewise, if you sign yourself up to take on a cat and then find you're responsible for housetraining her, you're going to be frustrated.
How long have they been with you?
Find out how long the pet has been with the shelter. If she's only been there a short time they won't know her as well, and there may well be surprises in store, such as a tendency to wee on rugs, that the shelter staff haven't spotted yet. Shorter time with a shelter also implies that the pet has not long been relocated. This may be from another shelter, or she may have only just lost her original home. If it's the latter, you will want to know so that you can show her extra patience and understanding. For animals that have been with the shelter for a long time, you get the benefit of the staff having a lot of knowledge about them. The downside is that potentially there's a reason this animal has been challenging to rehome, e.g., they may attack another cat on sight, or they have a tendency to wee on furniture and the former owner has not dedicated the time to train them out of it yet.
Where did they come from?
Another question you might want to ask is where the pet came from. It can be beneficial to understand your new pet's history, but beyond that, it's just nice to know. In cases where a pet has been abused or injured, it's essential to know. Sometimes background information can help a vet figure out a medical issue or explain why a pet isn't as healthy as it should be.
With all this information in mind, you're well equipped to make a solid decision on whether you can care for the pet or not, and whether they will do well in your home.