How to adopt a shelter pet


So you want to adopt a shelter pet. Great! Now think before you act.

Adopting a pet is a serious decision, especially for military families whose own lives are often in a state of constant change. It is a commitment. Bringing a four-legged family member into your household should never be an impulse decision.

Regardless of your military status, consider these issues before you ask, “how much is that doggie (or kitty) in the shelter?” 

A forever home

Do not adopt a shelter pet if you are unprepared to provide a loving home to her the rest of her natural life – period.

In this age of disposable everything – phones, MP3 players, clothes – people forget that an animal is not a toy or an amusement. A pet is a living being who is totally dependent upon his guardian.

Make sure that you are ready to commit to a dog or cat for life before you ever visit an animal shelter. When you adopt a pet and are unable to fulfill this commitment, you have denied that animal the chance to be saved by someone who can. 

Pets cost money

A dog or cat is entirely dependent upon its guardians for food, shelter, exercise, and medical care. And most of all, for love.

Before you adopt a shelter pet, educate yourself about typical pet care costs. If you live in an area with a high cost of living, add another 15-20 percent. Do the same if you adopt an animal with special needs or who requires ongoing medical care.

Do not be seduced by low- or no-cost adoption specials at your local shelter. While they do encourage adoptions, they can make you forget that a pet is a serious financial commitment.

Never adopt a shelter pet just because she is free.

Once you understand how much Fido or Fluffy may cost you each year, make this figure a line item in your family budget.

Dog person or cat person?

You probably already know if you prefer dogs or cats, or perhaps you enjoy each equally.

If you have a preference for one type of pet, but your living arrangements only allow you to have another, you have options.

You can wait until you are in a situation where you can have the pet you want. Or you can familiarize yourself with the alternative type of pet to see if you would enjoy having one in your life.

Visit friends and neighbors who have the kind of animal you are thinking about. Ask your local veterinarian for advice, and speak with staff at your local animal shelter. You may even want to volunteer at the shelter to get better acquainted with the kind of pet you are considering.

Training person and pet

Life in the military is all about training, and your new shelter pet will need training, too.

Some animals are surrendered for a variety of reasons, including financial hardship, relocation or other household-related issues. Some dogs and cats are picked up as strays. Still others – tragically – are victims of neglect, abuse or animal cruelty.

Regardless of how your future pet got to the shelter, chances are he will need some training to fit into your home and lifestyle. 

When training – or retraining – your newly adopted dog or cat, remember that training pets is equally about training people. You and your family members need to know how to act towards your pet to get the behaviors you desire.

And yes – cats need training, too. 

Be prepared to spend time with your new pet to give her the patience she deserves. She probably had a rough life before you gave her a second chance.

Ready to adopt a shelter pet

Once you area ready to adopt a pet for life, it is time to visit the shelter.

At Pets for Patriots, we often use the term shelter to refer to a wide range of animal welfare organizations. This includes shelters, rescues, SPCAs, humane societies, and municipal animal controls.

When you visit the shelter it is vital to bring everyone in your household, including other pets. This will help you find the pet who is the best fit for all members of your home, as well as your lifestyle.

You may need to know if a pet is child friendly, dog- or cat-averse, or has other behavioral or medical considerations that would impact your decision to adopt that particular animal.

Most shelters have a separate, more private ‘meet and greet’ area for you to get acquainted with any adoption candidates.

Remember that a pet’s true personality might not emerge during your shelter visit. But you should get a reasonably good picture of an animal’s basic characteristics.

A dog or cat may be traumatized by shelter life, especially if he is older or spent most of his previous life in a loving home. Some may have been passed over by other would-be adopters and are aloof to protect themselves from possible rejection. Animals do have feelings and are highly sensitive, which is one of the reasons we want them in our lives in the first place.


  1. Hairless Cat

    Hi Pets For Patriots,

    You aren’t kidding – it really is the age of disposable everything – and now more than ever it’s important to bring awareness to forever home adoption.

    Some people prefer dogs but get a cat because that’s the only pet allowed in a given apartment building. Your advice about either waiting until your living arrangements allow for the dog or to familiarize yourself with cats.

    I think that waiting until the lease is up and moving to a dog-friendly building is the better of the two choices.

    I’m all for shelter and distressed conditions adoption. These cats and dogs really need the help.


    =^-^= Hairless Cat Girl =^-^=


    HI BETH,

    NO luck with shelters in WA state for a catahoula ( young male) for brother JOE CLYDE RECENTLY widowed ,he is all but given up on these people.

  3. tina

    love that kitty……is she ready for me?


  1. Bronze Star Air Force veteran rescues dog who rescues others - Pets for Patriots - […] other veterans in search of pet companionship, Greg stresses the importance of searching local shelters or rescues where there are…
  2. "browse around here" - "Linda Oates" "[...]v I am cheerful to watch this you tube video at this site, so right now I am…
  3. affordable seo software - affordable seo software How to adopt a shelter pet — Pets For Patriots Blog
  4. จักรยานพับได้ - จักรยานพับได้ How to adopt a shelter pet — Pets For Patriots Blog
  5. facebook marketing for dummies - facebook marketing for dummies How to adopt a shelter pet — Pets For Patriots Blog
  6. Navy inspires man to give lifeline to pet in need — Pets For Patriots Blog - [...] in the life of one young man adrift in a sea of uncertainty, helping him – in turn – give…
  7. After a life in shelters, dog rescues Army veteran with PTSD — Pets For Patriots Blog - [...] a family or home of his own for the first two years of his life. Each day, he would…
  8. Navy veteran and dog lover becomes a "cat guy" — Pets For Patriots Blog - [...] is a veteran and dog lover who long hoped to bring a shelter dog into his life, so he…
  9. Afghanistan veteran who loses dog while deployed gives another a second chance — Pets For Patriots Blog - [...] A National Guardsman whose dog died while he was deployed to Afghanistan fills the void by giving another animal…
  10. Navy sailor and shelter cat set sail for a better life — Pets For Patriots Blog - [...] experienced the transformative love of a pet in need, D’Ann believes others should consider pet adoption if they want…
  11. Pint-sized Captain steers veteran through PTSD recovery — Pets For Patriots Blog - [...] Larry realizes that he’s not unique in benefiting from the unconditional love of a companion pet, and believes other…
  12. Pets help children deal with stress of military life — Pets For Patriots Blog - [...] confidante and therapist, among them. When your family is ready to add a four-legged member, adopt from your local…
  13. Dog lover makes room in his heart for a cat named Callie — Pets For Patriots Blog - [...] Mark and his wife Sandy knew it was time to get another pet, but the couple was torn on…
  14. Cinnamon adds spice to life for one Navy couple — Pets For Patriots Blog - [...] ever loving husband, Christopher wondered if adopting a small lap dog might lift his wife’s spirits and alleviate her…
  15. Retired Army officer touched by once-homeless dog — Pets For Patriots Blog - [...] and his wife visited their local animal shelter, Portsmouth Humane Society, when they decided to add a pet to their…
  16. Prayer guides Army reservist to four-legged miracle — Pets For Patriots Blog - [...] Veterans Administration hospital. Once I qualified with both of these programs I was ready to start looking at the…
  17. Rescued adult dog saves Coast Guard veteran from depression — Pets For Patriots Blog - [...] rescued dog always seems to know when it’s been given another chance, and often returns the favor. This [...]
  18. Rescued Adult Dog Saves Coast Guard Veteran From D - Military News | Military News - [...] rescued dog always seems to know when it’s been given another chance, and often returns the favor. This [...]
  19. Stray Dog Has Marine’s Number – Training. | - [...] avocation or late troops personnel looking to adopt a pet. He suggests doing a satisfactory bit of research before…
  20. Navy family sails high with rescued dog at helm — Pets For Patriots Blog - [...] years ago Tyler and Jamie married. Both he and his wife always wanted to adopt a pet , but housing regulations…

Give with Confidence

candid platinum transparency 2023
candid platinum transparency 2023
candid platinum transparency 2023
candid platinum transparency 2023
Petco Foundation

Shop 1800PetMeds for all of your pet’s health needs and we’ll get 10% of your purchase!

Shop BISSELL for your home cleaning needs and they will donate 10% of your purchase to us!

Because a shelter is not a home

Long-term shelter pets available for adoption