Once your family has made the decision that you are officially ready to bring a new four legged member into your home and you’ve done the appropriate research to narrow down the breed and personality of pet that you desire, it’s time to plan a visit to the shelter.

Looking Ahead: Most area shelters have a list and photos of available pets for adoption, although the list changes often. Before you head to the shelter you can take a peek online to get an idea of which dogs or cats you may want to see once you arrive. You can even message or call to ask specific questions and narrow down your search so you are not overwhelmed during your first visit.

Introductions: Once you arrive at the shelter, a “meet and greet” can be arranged. There is an indoor and outdoor area for you to play and get to know the animals at most shelters. This is also a good time to talk to the shelter workers, who have been diligently taking care of the animals. They can shed light on individual personalities, behavioral concerns and health records. If there are other pets in your home you will want to carefully evaluate how they react around other animals, how playful they are and age and size of the pet are also an important factor for introducing them to other animals or children. Remember, the animals are getting to know you too, so they may seem a little more reserved at first.

The shelter to home experience is important to ensure that your new best friend is a great fit for you and your family. Research beforehand and planning a visit to the shelter can help ease any concerns and narrow down your search. Shelter workers can be a wealth of knowledge, especially if they have been tending to them for an extended period of time. Once you’ve met your match and you are ready to adopt, preparing your home and creating a routine should follow. Next week, we’ll talk about that!