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The PetCulture guide to pet adoption

Published on 15 Sep 2021

A young lady has her arms around an old Irish Wolfhound in a loving embrace.

Life isn’t always purr-fect, and sometimes our fur-ever plans with friends in feathers, fur, scales and fins become one the hardest fur-well’s we ever have to say. 

When pets are between homes, looking for their next family to adopt, pet shelters are able to care for them until they do. Shelters do a wonderful job looking after vulnerable animals in need, but there are a lot of misconceptions about rescue pets that have landed them with a ruff, and undeserved, reputation.

Animals in adoption shelters have been lost, given up or abandoned, and all they want is a new family and home.

Adopting a pet gives them the love and new, happy life that they deserve. The power of pet adoption extends far beyond the pet you adopt though.

Adopting a pet from a shelter also:

  • helps to reduce the supply and demand cycle of harmful commercial pet breeding practices.
  • creates space in shelters for other vulnerable animals in need to get the some care and second chance.
  • offers pet parents a large variety of pets of all types, ages and character to choose from.
  • saves pet parents money as shelter adoption fees are considerably cheaper than buying from pet stores and breeders.
  • provides much needed funds to pet shelters, enabling them to continue caring for pets experiencing homelessness.

Adoption shelters are not for profit, charity and organisations that rely on adoption fees and donations. 

When you or someone you know are thinking of adding a new pet to the family, follow our guide to pet adoption to find your next best friend. 

1. Before you take on a pet, think about your lifestyle and future as a pet parent carefully 

Think about your lifestyle now, and how becoming a pet parent will impact and change it - always for the better! 

Consider your lifestyle and habits, the reasons you'd like a pet, the type of pet you want, and the type you that meets your needs.

Pet parenting is a financial, physical, emotional and lifestyle commitment. Feathers, fur, scales or fins, pets feel more like family, they need to fit with your life, but you also need to be ready to fit with theirs. 

Pet Shelters care for animals of all ages, types, breeds and backgrounds, each one has their own personality, experience, needs, likes, and dislikes. 

They want a new home, you want a new friend. To find the best match between pets and parents, consider the animals needs as much as your own in your pet choice and you’ll both be living your best lives. 

2. Only buy pets from reputable pet adoption and rescue shelters.

Before you visit a shelter research them online, check out their social media, compare them to other local shelters, talk to friends who have had some experience with them, or ask your vet for recommendations. Shelters aren’t the shady, unsafe environments some people believe them to be, but you should always know who your pets are coming from.  

You want to feel confident in your decision to adopt, and that the shelter you choose is reputable, safe and trustworthy. It’s important to know how animals come into the shelter's care, and trust that they're received in reasonable, legitimate, ethical ways.

You also want to know that the animals in their care are well looked after, and that the history, health and information you’re provided about them is as truthful and transparent as possible.

3. Pet adoption can be a bit like dating.. So read the online profiles before you meet!

Like any new friend you may want to take home, you definitely want to meet them before you do. Knowing a little about them usually makes those first dates go a bit smoother too. 

Most pet adoption and rescue shelters have online profiles for all animals in their care. Take the time to read the profiles and swipe left and right to build your shortlist of potential new pet pals to meet. 

Using online pet profiles and arranging a time to meet with shelters before you go will save a lot time time, effort and hours driving... and maybe even some heartbreak from meeting too many cute mismatches along the way.

4. Talk to pet shelter/s before you visit them

You can save even more time by talking to pet shelters before you visit. Contact them to talk through any questions or concerns about adopting a pet from them you might have. By speaking with the shelter you’ll know if you want to arrange a time to visit them or not. 

Not sure where to start with questions to ask? These conversation starters are essential: 

  • Talk a about the animal/s you're interested in

    How do animals come to the centre, are they received in reasonable, legitimate, ethical ways? Ask about the personality, history, health, unique needs etc of the ones you’re interested in. 
  • Understand the adoption application, process, assessment and costs

    The fees and charges, documentation, requirements, challenges, personal information collected and checked, the timeline, etc.
  • Ask about getting your home pet ready.

    Find out what you need, what the pets need, how to minimise the stress and anxiety of the transition to a new environment and what you can do to help your new pet feel comfortable and safe
  • Plan a shelter visit to meet the animal/s

    Arrange meeting to spend time with the animal at the shelter, get to know them and let them get familiar with you.

    If you already have a pet at home make sure you let the shelter know. It is highly recommended to set up a time for the pets to meet at the shelter to see if they get along and accept each other.

    Making sure everyone will get along before you adopt a new pet, saves the time and trauma of starting over again. 

5. Visit the Shelter/s to meet the animals, team to decide your next steps.

Visit the shelter/s to meet and spend time with your potential new family member. Get to know each other, introduce them to your current pets, and make sure all pets and people in the family are comfortable, happy and feel that the adoption is right for everyone. 

Because of the experiences that lead them to being in the shelter some animals need more time than others to trust or play, and may be timid at first. Building their trust and comfort may take more than one visit, but we all know that our best friends for life are worth the effort. 

Speak with the shelter staff honestly and openly about your needs, questions and concerns. They want to help find the perfect match for both pets and parents and can help make it happen. . 

Be sure to take any documentation, funds and anything else you need to start the adoption process whenever you visit a shelter. 

6. When you're ready, start the adoption process. 

It may take a few dates to find the perfect frog to kiss, or whichever type of pet you’re looking for, but when you do you can't take the home straight away. 

You need to apply and be approved for adoption before you’re able to take them home. The shelter can help you through your adoption application, and explain the process and timeline.   

While waiting to hear the outcome, use the time to get ready at home:

Once they’re home you’re ready for a lifetime of love, care and joy… and probably a few vet bills along the way.. but you know your little buddy is worth every cent.

To learn more about pet adoption and break down the misconceptions about animal shelters, rescue pets and adoption visit


Chow Chow brown dog close up portrait.

JK Growling

JK Growling likes the finger things in life (except wizards, don’t get her started). She only eats the bougie treats, loves showing off her tricks to the humans to get her bougie treats. 

She has one human: Delores, who she has wrapped around her little paw.