FOREVER HOMES FOR FOREVER FRIENDS
Buying a purebred or going to a pet store is how many people go about
bringing a pet into their home. But thousands of incredible and amazing
animals in shelters across the country are patiently waiting for a forever
home…and a forever friend.
Rescuing an animal from a shelter is an incredible gift of kindness and one that
brings laughter, love and learning into your home. The sad fact is that, while
many animals are adopted with the best of intentions, too many are victims of
impulse who are returned to the shelter feeling dislocated and distressed.
Providing an animal with a forever home means carefully considering all of the
benefits and needs that are a part of your new companion’s four-footed reality.
Here are a few things to consider before making a visit to your local shelter in
search of that special friend who will add warmth and wonder to your home.
Lifestyle and Expectations
Lifestyles vary; some people are active and some find contentment in more quiet
pursuits. Along the same lines, the extent to which rules and routines control
your life have an impact on the kind of animal that will fit into your environment.
An animal that needs daily exercise out of doors and requires a stable schedule
isn’t an ideal fit for a household that loves reading by the fire or has a highly
Things to consider in an animal companion are species, age, gender and the
time required to keep your animal healthy. Many people forget that small
animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs make excellent, highly interactive
companions for families with children. Also often neglected are older animals
who provide years of faithful companionship without the need to take on the
challenges of house training, litter training or a high degree of physical activity.
Animals add to our lives in so many ways, but it is irresponsible to ignore the
fact that there are costs that come along with their companionship. The primary
things to consider are food, dishes, bedding and toys, but each species has a
unique set of requirements. Dogs may require crates; cats will need a litter box
and scratching post; small animals require cages, special bedding, species-
specific toys and water bottles.
Training for All
Most people associate training with dogs, but it’s a reality that all species
will require some kind of training as they get used to the rules of your home.
Certainly, puppies will need to be enrolled in basic obedience classes, and the
same is often true of older dogs in need of a refresher course. House training is
also a challenge that puppy owners need to be willing to undertake. Training for
cats and small animals is often limited to reinforcing litter box training and using
a scratching post. Socialization, on the other hand, is key with these species
if they have been without regular human companionship for any length of time.
Love, patience and a good canine trainer are the keys in this category.
The cost of veterinary care is important to consider before adding four paws
to your household. While veterinary bills can sometimes add up, animal
companions make such an astounding and wonderful contribution to our lives,
the benefits of their presence far outweighs any medical costs. The introduction
of healthcare insurance for pets is one option that many new animal owners are
exploring and most shelters will have information on different insurance carriers.
Rescuing any animal will involve some basic veterinary costs. While most
animals receive a veterinary check-up prior to being adopted, those who are very
young will need to be spayed or neutered when they reach the appropriate age.
Yearly check-ups, vaccinations and heartworm medication (for dogs) are annual
expenses that need to be considered. With any animal, there is also the risk of
injury or infection; it is important to have an emergency fund in place so that you
can ensure your four-legged companion receives the care he or she needs in an
Planning for the Arrival
Bringing a rescued animal home means making preparations. Ensure that you
have food, dishes, bedding, the number of a veterinarian and a quiet space
in place for your new companion. The supplies that you need will depend on
whether you have decided to adopt a dog, cat, small animal or bird, but no
matter what species you are welcoming into your home, it’s important to animal-
proof the house. Make sure that sharp edges are cushioned, small (and highly
ingestible) objects are out of reach, and any cherished possessions are in a safe
If you already have a pet in your home, it’s important that you introduce their new
companion gradually. Animals will learn to get along, but they need space and
time to do so. Keep food dishes separate, don’t expect dogs to share beds or
cats to share litter boxes, and protect small animals from each other until they
have time to accept each other.
A Final Word
Reliable, responsible and reasonable information about animal adoption and
rescue is available at no cost online. Consider visiting the following sites and
learning about the process long before you make that life-changing trip to
the shelter. Doing your research in advance will ensure that you have all the
information you need to find yourself a forever friend and provide an incredible
animal with a forever home.
Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) www.ospca.ca
Toronto Humane Society (THS) www.torontohumanesociety.com
Toronto Animal Services http://www.toronto.ca/animal_services/
About the author : Isla Campbell is a freelance writer, editor and communications
strategist specializing in non-profit advocacy and public relations. She happily
shares her life with a number of animal companions and is an active advocate for
animal welfare and wildlife protection. firstname.lastname@example.org