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Adopting a Shelter Dog: Questions to Ask

As our regular readers know, both of our dogs came from shelters and three of our four cats are from shelters (the fourth, Coco, was found as a stray). With an estimated five to seven million animals in shelters across the US, there is no shortage of great pets looking for a forever home so we always, always try to steer pet lovers to check out the shelters and rescues for their next furry family member.

When you visit that shelter, you’ll have the opportunity to talk with the workers about your next potential pet…but what should you ask? Today we have some tips from Hill’s® Science Diet®. In November I visited the Hill’s headquarters in Kansas and learned that Hill’s provides food–ALL the food–for almost 1,000 shelters as part of their shelter program. It’s an amazing program that makes a huge difference in the budget of many shelters. Since 2002, the Hill’s Food Shelter & Love program has donated over $180 million worth of Science Diet pet food to nearly 1,000 animal shelters, 365 days a year. It has also helped more than 6 million pets find new homes.

With all that experience with shelters, Hill’s has some great advice on what you should ask shelter employees during your visit:

  • The pet’s history – Find out as much as you can about the pet’s background. Was it a stray or given up by its owner? Did it come from a loving home? Did it live with other pets or with children?
  • Medical and behavioral assessments – Find out what evaluations have been done and what lifestyle would suit it best. Ask about the pet’s interaction with the staff, and what their impressions are.
  • The adoption timeline and process – Some shelters will let you take an animal home right away, while others take a slower approach. Find out what to expect up front.
  • Spaying/neutering – Most shelters have policies to make sure that animals leave spayed or neutered. Some take care of this before the animals are available for adoption. Others schedule the procedure when the animal goes home and either finalize the adoption once it is performed, or refund the spay/neuter deposit once proof is provided.
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