Adopt a pet

ADOPT A PET IN CANADA

01/04/14

It’s a new year, and many Canadians will be looking to bring a pet into their home in 2014.

If you’re one of them, why not “opt to adopt”?

There are tens of thousands of cats and dogs available for adoption from shelters and animal rescue organizations across Canada.

Here’s a few tips for pet adoption and finding your next furry friend:

Where to start

Your ideal pet should fit your lifestyle, your home and surroundings, and your family.

Start by assessing the kind of pet that appeals to you, and factor in the amount of attention the animal will need, balanced with the amount of time you can spend.

Pets are a long-term commitment and investment, so before you decide to adopt a pet, make sure you honestly assess what kind of pet you want and can afford.

If you’re not sure what kind of pet you want to adopt, many provincial animal welfare organizations such as the Ontario SPCA offer a Meet Your Match program, where you can complete a questionnaire and be matched to adoptable pets based on your preferences.

Where to search for adoptable pets

Once you decide what type of pet you're ready for, check local shelters and rescue organizations.  CanadasGuidetoDogs.com offers a directory where you can search by province, as does Petfinder.com.

Petfinder.com is the most widely used search tool for adoptable pets, and is also available on the Pets Plus Us website.  You can search for and browse photos and videos of all the adoptable dogs and cats available in your area and filter your search by breed, size, sex, age, or other factors.

Petfinder gives animal welfare organizations the opportunity to add whatever personal information they have about each animal. You may be able to learn something about the animal's personality likes and dislikes, level of house training, and any health concerns.

Costs of pet adoption

Adoption fees will vary widely by shelter and type of pet.

While most shelters are staffed by volunteers, they typically spend quite a lot on each animal, attending to any health issues, ridding them of fleas or other parasites, and providing room and board for weeks before they are ready for adoption. Fees also often include the cost of spay or neuter operations.

But beyond adoption fees you should consider the long-term financial commitment of adopting a dog or cat.  According to the OVMA, annual costs of owning a pet can be approximately $1,400 for a cat, and $1,800 for a dog, so ensure to budget for your new furry family member.

Questions to ask animal shelter before adopting

Most animal shelters and rescues are well-run organizations that have the best interests of animals at heart, but it’s still never a bad idea to ensure you’re adopting a pet that’s ready to be taken home.  Here’s a few questions to ask:

  • • Do I have to complete and adoption application? (In nearly all cases you should)
  • • Will my pet be spayed or neutered before I bring it home? (It should be)
  • • Has my pet been examined by a vet and received appropriate vaccines?
  • • Is my pet good with other pets, or children?
  • • Are their any health or behavioural issues with my pet?
  • • What type of diet has my pet been on?
  • • Does my pet require house-training or any other type of training?
  • • Do I need to sign an adoption contract? (In many cases you would)

Other considerations

Microchipping is an identification system that helps bring pets home when they are lost. Pets are injected with a microchip about the size of a grain of rice. It is no more painful or irritating than a vaccination. The microchip carries an ID for your pet, and the information for that ID is stored in a database. When the chip is read by a vet or shelter, the animal's name, address, and owner information comes up. You'll be contacted to retrieve your pet.

Just like humans, pets can get sick or be hurt at any point in life. Pet insurance is a great way to ensure your pet gets all the necessary vaccines and treatments, and helps minimize the cost of an unexpected illness or accident.

Adopting and owning a pet is not only a joy, it's a boost to your health and your mood. From stress relief to seeing that you exercise more, pets enrich your life in many ways.

Additional resources:

Owning a dog in Ontario: What you need to know

Owning a dog in British Columbia: What you need to know

Bringing home a pet

What every adoptive pet owner should know