Making the decision to adopt a new family member is a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly and one that the whole family should be involved in making. There are a lot of options as far as humane societies and rescues when looking for a new friend, and not all of us have the same process to do so. We often hear that our adoption process is strict or that it is easier to adopt a child than it is to adopt a pet from our facility. While we certainly don’t want to complicate the process or make people feel intimidated, we do want to ensure that we have found a qualified and permanent home for our pet. After all, each animal in our care is loved by us as if it was our personal pet; what questions would you ask if you were rehoming your pet? Would you want to check veterinary history? Would you want to meet everyone in the household? Would you ask for personal references or want the pets to meet? There is a lot to consider!
If you’ve decided to search for your new companion at HSMC, there are a few things you should know about completing our adoption process.
1. We require everyone in the household to visit
We want everyone to be onboard with the decision to get a new pet. We also want to make sure that your family members respond well to the pet you are considering, and vice versa. Consider this: a large portion of our adoptable animals are strays; meaning they arrived to our shelter with no name or information. This means we don’t know what kind of household they came from or what they’re used to, their likes or dislikes. We thoroughly document what behaviors we see in the shelter- as far as how the pet interacts with handling, health concerns, how they respond toward other animals, etc. We cannot simulate every situation this pet may encounter outside of the shelter setting. We do behavior evaluations prior to placing animals in our adoption areas but sometimes the one behavior we haven’t seen will be the behavior that comes out when your child is in the room visiting. Or the one that comes out when your husband comes in wearing a hat and sunglasses. For these reasons, we won’t take the chance.
We would rather be safe than sorry. (As a side note, because we require everyone to visit we do not do adoptions as gifts/surprises.)
2. We require your current pets to be vaccinated
Keeping your pet up to date on vaccinations and getting into your vet office regularly is very important for the health and well being of your pet. Even if you’re a cat owner and your cat never goes outside, it is still recommended to keep your cat current on his/her Rabies vaccination in the event that a wild animal gets into the house or the unthinkable happens and now your indoor only cat is alone outdoors. It is also important to keep this vaccination current in the event that your animal bites someone and breaks skin; if this would happen and your pet was not up to date on his/her Rabies vaccine, state law would require a 10 day quarantine at a designated quarantine facility or veterinary office. Vaccines aside, regular visits to your vet can help detect health problems sooner and allow time for treatment, instead of letting years lapse between visits and trying to start treatment when it is already too late. Having a pet is expensive, there is no doubt about that, but we think they are worth every penny. In addition, state law requires ALL dogs 4 months and older to be Rabies vaccinated and licensed on an annual basis. Some areas ( City of Wausau, Village of Weston, Town of Rib Mountain, City of Schofield, Village of Rothschild, City of Mosinee to name a few) require cats to be licensed as well. We find that people often are unaware of the licensing requirements for dogs, and most certainly for cats. If you are unsure whether or not your municipality requires cats to be licensed, you can view their ordinances online or call us to help you! Furthermore, when an animal leaves our facility they are up to date on vaccinations; if you already have a pet at home that is not current on vaccinations, you’re not only posing a risk to your pet but also to your new addition. Veterinary history is one of the best tools we have to process adoption applications. Now, don’t worry. If you’ve had a lapse between visits or weren’t aware of an ordinance in your area, that doesn’t automatically disqualify you, but we will request proof of updated vaccinations and/or compliance prior to placement. Additionally, if you are looking to adopt a dog and already have one at home, we will require proof of vaccination before allowing dog to dog introduction.
The bottom line is we feel that if you have a history of keeping your past/current pets up to date on vaccines and into the vet regularly, you are more likely to keep the pet you are adopting up to date also.
3. We require proof of home ownership or landlord consent
One of the biggest reasons we see for animal surrender is because of landlord issues or because someone is moving to a place where pets or certain pets aren’t allowed. The last thing we want to do is to not have done our due diligence and place an animal where it is not allowed and has to be returned. Transition in and out of the shelter is stressful for animals (and their owners, and staff) and we want to do our best to find the new, permanent home on the first try. If you are looking to adopt and are currently renting, we have a landlord permission form that must be signed. We will not take verbal permission. Sometimes we do call the landlord as well to follow up if there are questions regarding a declaw requirement, size or breed. If you are looking to adopt and currently own your home and live in Marathon County, we will verify ownership via the county land record system. If you own your home and live out of county, your land record system may not be as easily accessed and we may request that you provide proof in the form of a tax bill, mortgage statement or deed. Land contracts can be tricky, but we will find a way to work with you and verify placement.
Again, the last thing we want to do is to not have done our due diligence and place an animal where it is not allowed and has to be returned.
4. We’ll want you to send updates!
As I have already mentioned, we love each one of our guests as if they are our own pets. When they leave on adoption day, they take a piece of each of us with them. One of the best things you can do whenever you have adopted a pet, is send updates back to the shelter/rescue/etc. We live for these updates! We love to share them on our Facebook page and with our volunteers.
Sometimes an update will come on a particularly hard day and it rejuvenates our spirit and can remind us why all of the stress and hard work is worth it.
Even better, bring your adopted pet back to visit! A trip back to the shelter shortly after adoption day may not be the best idea for your new pet, but once they have adjusted consider a car ride out to see the staff that used to love them (and still do!). Another option is to include us in your holiday card mailing if you’ve featured your new family member in this year’s picture. An email with an update, a post or message on Facebook or even a hand written letter; we will love it no matter what it is. (To the right is a recent update received from gradupet Remmy’s new family!)