What to expect when adopting your new Pet!

Once you have weighed the pros and cons of owning a pet or adding another to your family, the adoption process that follows can seem overwhelming or confusing for a first time adoptee. SAFE Chicago would like to ease the anxiety and help by giving you a step by step process for what to expect, what to look for and how to make the best decision for you and the animal.

Research what type of dog is best for your family.

Are you active? Do you love the outdoors? Do you live in an apartment, or have a small yard? Do you have children, other pets or active teenagers?

All these factors, and more, will help to determine which dog breed will fit onto your family the best. There are lots of websites, literature and shelter employees that have tons of information on breed specific characteristics, needs and preferences. Some shelters or rescuers will not adopt a dog out to a family if its breed specific characteristics are not conducive to the families lifestyle or environment. It is important to have these ideas set up before you walk around a shelter filled with adorable faces, that way you wont make a decision based 100% on emotion, but a balanced, educated decision that will lead to a more successful companionship.

Once you’ve found the dog or cat you are looking for, see how you get along.

It is important to have several interactions with an animal before you decide to take it home as your new pet. This is especially important when you have a multiple person or pet household. First thing, is to have some one-on-one time with the animal you’re interested in. If they are in a kennel, see if you are permitted to hang out with them in there, or see if you can enter the yard where they are playing. Make sure to watch for the animal’s mannerism towards yourself, shelter employees or volunteers, other animals and the general public. Many animals will act quite differently in an animal shelter or rescue environment then they will at home. If you are visiting a foster home, the animal may be extremely attached to his/her foster parents, and may show you no interest or even get protective. It is important to take their environment in consideration as it relates to their behavior.

If all is well, can you take the new pet home?

If all the above has gone smoothly and you have finally decided on the animal of your dreams, the next step is to begin the adoption process. By talking about this process up front, you will know what is expected from you and what you can expect from us.

First step is to fill out an pet adoption application. We will have you do this before meeting or spending time with an animal, The application covers the basics like home address, phone number, city, etc. Other parts will often go into depth about previous animal ownership, your home environment, your work schedule, will children have access to the animal, what are your plans for pet health, and some will ask for references from a vet, employer or family/friends. After your application has been reviewed, our organizations will do an in-person interview, and will require a home visit.

After this process is completed to both parties satisfaction, an adoption contract is presented as a final step in the process. This contract can include information such as, a required vet visit or vaccinations, a required spay or neuter if applicable, a certain diet, continuation of medical treatments or prescriptions, or a return to organization clause if the owner no longer wishes to keep animal. This is a legally binding contract, so it is important to read through it thoroughly and ask for clarification on any section where you may need it.

In order to adopt the animal, an adoption fee will apply. This fee may depend on what medical services the animal has received. The adoption fee or adoption donation is NOT tax deductible. When donating to a 501c3, in order for the amount to be tax deductible, an individual must not receive any goods or services in return. Since you are receiving a wonderful gift (a new pet) for the amount in which you are paying, it is not considered a donation. If however, you choose to give a monetary donation in addition to the fee, then the amount you have donated (not including the adoption fee) is tax deductible.

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