Adopting a pet

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If you are considering a new pet, there is no better choice than to adopt a rescue cat or dog. Adopting a homeless dog or cat means you are SAVING A LIFE, and bringing the joy and benefits of pet ownership into your life.

As the Australian Pet Welfare Foundation is a research and advocacy group, we do not run shelters and do not offer rescue animals for adoption. We have prepared these handy guidelines to help you through the adoption process.

The first thing to remember, is that the majority of rescue animals are well adjusted and ready to find their “forever home”. There are many situations that may lead to a pet being surrendered, such as rental restrictions, financial hardship, relationship breakdown, health issues or physical limitations.

There are two main ways you can adopt a rescue animal – from a shelter/pound/rescue or directly from a surrendering owner (home to home). There are benefits and drawbacks to both which are outlined below.

Before you begin your search however there are a few things to keep in mind. Take your time to think about what type of pet you are after, and what type of pet is right for you and your family:

Are you ready to adopt? Questions to ask yourself?

    • -Do I want a young or adult pet?
    • -Can I cover all the financial costs of owning a pet, beyond just the adoption cost, including food, bedding, toys and veterinary check-ups and treatment including emergencies?
    • -Is my home safe, secure and suitable for a pet?
    • -Do I have time to train and socialise a pet?
    • -Will I be able to provide them with enough company so they don’t get lonely or bored? A pet without enough attention can become unsocial and misbehaved

Once you have spotted that special friend, learn more about that particular pet, its needs and background and if they suit your house/backyard, your lifestyle, family members and existing pet. These facts are important considerations, to ensure the welfare of the pet and making sure that your home will be their ‘forever home’.

Shelter and pound adoption

The benefits of adopting through a shelter and pound are that, in most cases, animals will have been assessed for behaviour and health and will be desexed, microchipped and vaccinated. The drawbacks are that you are meeting your potential new pet in an environment where they may not be showing their usual happy personality and that some pounds and shelters charge a  fee for adoption.

In a few cases sheltered pets may have poor socialization skills due to mistreatment or lack of human companionship. Please don’t be annoyed at them, they are lonely and desperate for a new home with your forever love. To witness how a pet blossoms in confidence once given love and attention, can be very rewarding

The easiest way to search for a new rescue pet is online. Both Pet Rescue ( and the RSPCA “Adopt A Pet” ( have websites where you can search, review find the location of animals ready for adoption.

You can also find shelters, pounds and some rescue groups by searching Google or on Facebook – be sure to include your suburb/town in the search.

Each shelter will require an adoption application form to be filled, and an additional 24-hour cooling-off period can be required to give you the opportunity to ensure you have made the right decision.

Private ‘home-to-home’ pet adoption

The benefits of adopting a pet through a private home to home adoption, is that you are able to meet your pet in their home environment, and speak directly with their current owner to learn all about them. This gives you the chance to get to know your potential new pet and find out if you will be a good fit for each other. The drawback to this type of adoption is that, depending on your state, the pet may not need to be desexed and may not have up-to-date vaccinations. It also will not have had a health or behaviour check. This may be offset by the fact that, in most cases, the surrendering owner will not ask for any payment as they will just be looking for the right ‘forever home’ for their beloved pet. Remember, in most cases surrender is the last resort for loving owners and they just want the best for their pet!

You can search for home-to-home pet adoption on social media such as Facebook and on online advertising sites such as Gumtree. If the current owner does not include enough information, be sure to make contact and ask more questions before organising a visit. You should try to find out:

    • -The appearance, breed, size and age of the pet
    • -If the pet is desexed, microchipped and has a vaccination history
    • -Any medical history and veterinary paperwork
    • -Description of the pet’s nature and appealing qualities
    • -Any limitations the pet might have (e.g. not good with small children)
    • -Any other concerns

It is not uncommon for people who are surrendering their beloved pet to want to also come to your home, possibly with their pet, to see if it will be suitable. This can also be a great opportunity for you to confirm if your potential new pet will be happy in your home!

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