Help for Homeless Pets: How to know if you’re ready to adopt a pet

Editor’s Note: For the next three weeks, The Sun looks into the state of homeless pets in South Jersey and what is being done to find homes — and futures — for thousands of animals. This article is one of two featured in the third week of this series.

If you are looking to adopt a pet, it is important to make sure that you are prepared. As adorable as a pet might be, there is a lot of responsibility that comes with having one.

Before thinking of adoption, there are a number of questions that not only you should ask yourself, but also an adoption agency you use may ask as well, according to the Animal Orphanage in Voorhees.

Questions you should ask yourself include:

  • Do I have the time/responsibility to commit to a pet?
  • What kind of pet best suits me and my activity level?
  • How can I see this pet fitting in my lifestyle?
  • Am I financially prepared for this pet? •
  • Am I prepared to deal with any physical/emotional issues this pet may have?
  • Am I prepared for a daily and long-term commitment with this pet?

Animal shelters such as the Burlington County Animal Shelter, Camden County Animal Shelter, Animal Welfare Association and Voorhees Animal Orphanage ask questions such as:

  • What kind of pet are you looking for? Do you have experience with that pet?
  • How many people live in your household? What ages are they?
  • Do you currently have any pets? If so, what kind?
  • Did you ever give up a pet?
  • If you have a vet, who is it? If not, do you have access to one?
  • What kind of home do you live in? Are pets allowed? Do you have a fenced-in yard? Where will you keep your pet?
  • What is a typical day at your household like?
  • What qualities are you looking for in your pet?
  • How many hours will the pet be left alone?
  • What is your job? What are your hours?
  • Why are you adopting this pet?

The shelters may also ask for references, such as your vet, your landlord, school/work or other personal references they may call.

“We want to make sure the family or person matches the (pet’s) needs and personality. We require that anyone adopting one of our (pets) to have a veterinarian and a good solid history of being a good pet owner,” Dawn Mason, operations director of the VAO, said.

There are also a number of things you will need to adopt, including requirements for adoption and fees before and after adoption.

Though it may be different for each shelter, according to the Camden County Animal Shelter, you must have a valid driver’s license or state ID and be over 18; show proof of your current address; demonstrate the ability to provide a stable home, a safe environment, necessary veterinary care and nutrition, basic training, identification and companionship for the animal; and fill out an application/questionnaire.

Adoption fees can range from $35 to $300, depending on what type of pet you are looking for as well as any ailments the animal has and length of time the animal has been there. You will also have to take your pet to your veterinarian for a visit after adoption, which is another fee to consider.

All in all, shelters would like pets to go to a good home.

“(For potential adopters, we look for) a stable home life. We like to see a good history of dog/cat ownership or, if it’s the first time someone is adopting, that they’ve done all the research of what goes into caring for an animal such as food, exercise, training and vet visits. (We want) someone who will treat an animal as a member of the family,” Mason said.