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Readers Respond: Adoption and Rescue - tips for a successful pet adoption

Responses: 26


The decision to add a new pet to the family is one that should not be taken lightly. Stories of animals being returned to the shelter, for whatever reason, are heartbreaking.

Patience, commitment and training are keys for success.

Do you have pet adoption tips or stories to share that will help others make informed, committed decisions? Knowledge is power, and while Kelsey was fortunate to have a second chance, many animals do not. Please share your adoption success stories here.

Related: Your adoption story with photos

Neglected middle aged cat

we gave an older male cat (neutered) from the shelter a forever home. I had no choice. J sat down on my foot and never left ;-) When I asked the shelter (they have a vet employed) if the cat had any health issues, they told me no. Unfortunately, that wasn't true. Now, I would have adopted J anyway, but it would have been very nice to know he was under healthy weight, had eye problems, food problems, a chronic infection and much, much more. All they wanted to tell me about his history is that he was rescued from a small home with 31 others that were all neglected and he had been in the shelter ever since. It has been a long story since. J is still a kitten in his behaviour even though he's 10. He is extremely clingy and I fear he might think home is temporary. At least he's gained some weight, has nice shiny fur, is finally clean and has stopped scratching himself open everywhere. He always purs and never stays angry, even when we still had to help him clean himself. We love him bac
—Guest Kay

To Marie Clouser

Dear Marie, I'm hoping to still be able to reach you this way. Your story is compelling, and you seem like kindhearted people. Still, I'm politely asking you to reconsider, atleast for a puppy. A puppy biting, snapping, pooping indoors and running out of a gate to me honestly sounds like normal, untrained puppy behaviour. Running your dog over is an accident of course, but one that should have been prevented. Puppies need round the clock supervision, just like a little kid. German Shepherds are not the easiest dogs to train. They're smart, and especially at a young age need very consequent, correct upbringing, with lots of excercise; both mentally and physically. I'm only saying this because I want to spare you and your future canine family member a lot of disappointment and frustration; but for now - wouldn't you try and adopt a well trained, grown dog? They're already trained (not too difficult), house broken, know tricks, and are instantly loving you. Please reconsider...
—Guest Samaritan

Success or NOT!

We just went through 2 dogs, puppies. from the animal shelter, & returned her 2 wks later! Bit, snapped, pottied eveywhere, then ran out the gate! Too difficult. The next was doing fine, until my husb hit & RAN HER OVER IN THE DRIVEWAY :( Talk about grieving. Bella could not move fast enough. It was a distressful day/wknd! But we r good homeowners for pets, w/ a HUGE walled in backyard. Aiming for another German Shepard. I grew up w/ these, & only know their likes & dislikes. Hopefully, we can adopt a dog soon. One whom is pure shepard, not mixed. Can u help, Thank you.....
—Guest Marie Clouser

Thank you mystery doctor

Thank you to a veterinarian in Muskegon Michigan area that took time on Christmas Eve to save my dog. She was brought to the shelter with a severly broken and frost bitten hind limb. The family that owned her could not find the money to have her treated. Fortunately for me some kind veterinarian took time away from his or her family to vaccinate, heartworm test, spay, and remove her painful hind limb. For that I am forever greatful. My dog Josie is a community figure now that not only represents the shelter that I work for , but she travels to schools, nursing homes, and pet expos with calmness, gentleness, and ease that is appreciated by all. And by the way, she also lives with a Lab, a Jack Russell, and a Blue Healer, and she can out run them all... Thanks Doc.
—Guest Horse Girl


I've been a shelter volunteer for over 6 years, and can positively say that fostering saves lives. When a litter of kittens comes in that will need a little extra care, or a stray animal with an injury that needs time to heal, if no foster situation is available, these creatures don't get a second chance. I've seen hundreds of successful foster situations like these that have saved lives. Probably the hardest part of fostering, especially when the animal really "fits" into your family dynamics, is sending the animal away to it's forever home. (The first time is always the hardest!) But it's extremely rewarding when you look back at the numbers of animals you have successfully fostered and know they wouldn't still be alive if you hadn't stepped up to help save them. I talk big: most of my furkids started out as fosters, but I also look at the ones happily settled in other forever homes, and know that I have made a difference for these animals and their new loving families.

The BEST co-incidence of all

We needed a new litter-box,industrial size! Only the two girls then but We found ourselves at a national Pet Super Store on an adoption day. As Seniors we had no plans to increase our cat family, only two lovely girls. I was unaware of 'adoption day' and ran-in only for the litter box leaving my husband to doze-off in the car. Upon entering Petco I soon saw the cages of kittens and tears flowed as I wanted to adopt one so badly, yet how to tell my husband "maybe it's time to have another baby"...and at our age! I was in tears as I reached the car with my purchase and Dean had already begun driving from the parking lot. He began telling me his last thought before dozing-off was "will we ever have another baby"...cat...and in tears I mentioned all the little-ones inside awaiting homes. To my surprise he turned the car around. Inside was the "ONE" a very scrawny virusy whiskerless kitten ,calling our name! Sammi, like the story of THE UGLY DUCKLING, with copious love,Sammi became 'World-Class". From broken whiskered, skin and bone, partially bald with a serious respiratory infection..to a world-class phenomenon...longest whiskers,longest haired grey-striped tabby and the love of our lives. He has added so much joy and mischief to our lives. There is no better way to chase 'senior depression' than watching a kitten chase its tail! SENIORS, adoption is the best medicine! It helps more than the animal. It helps US even more.
—Guest Susan Beyer

New Addition

We had a dog already and are very fortunate all of our kids, and us play with him everyday. We started to notice he may be in need of a friend. We decided we would adopt an older dog skipping the puppy stage. We happen to be looking online one night and we found him.We found our Guinness! he was 2 at the time, he had no or little training what so ever. We new it would be a lot of work for all of us but we were determined we could do this for us and him. Instantly we could see the love pouring from him. He just wanted someone to know touch him just wanted a, 'hello!' We were very lucky that both dogs hit it off, they play all day long with each other. We work with him daily...and reward with tons of play and exercise. We are so happy with our two dogs. We feel like we really did rescue him and he knows it...It is amazing what animals can do for our souls...we wouldn't change it for anything they are part of our family.
—Guest Guinness

The spirit of Dixie

I had been looking for a dog for quite a while, online and through local shelters. One day i stumbled upon a website that is a gateway for people to get their deaf dogs adopted, I did some research about deaf dogs and found out that mots dogs born deaf are euthanized at the shelter. They are just like other dogs accept you use hand signals instead of your voice. I came across Dixie, a deaf english foxhound/ catahoula leapord dog mix. She was adorable and when i read her story i fell in love. About a month later I drove the 5 hours and several towns over to go get my baby. she has settled into our home so worderfully. She is greay with kinds and other dogs and knows about 50 signals now with some training from me. I want people to know that these animals are just like most others and deserve a loving home. If anyone is curious about adopting a deaf dog go to: www.spiritofdeafdogs.org. You'll be glad you did
—Guest Sarah

a mission

I run an adoption program in my state. We take in shelter dogs and rehab them then adopt them out. Our campus is run by the state and houses juvenile delinquent male youth. We love our shelter dogs and have had several success stories with touch our community and helping with a growing problem, both strays and delinquent youth. Pooch Troop Louisville Kentucky-Audubon Youth Development Center.
—Guest clcollins

Tips for successful pet adoption

2-1/2 yrs ago I adopted a cocker poodle terrier mix from an animal shelter. She was 9 mos old and I was her FOURTH home. She had issues, the worst not being housebroken and I thought, at one time, it was almost impossible to train her. However, lots of patience, love and a secure and stable home solved the problem. I had the rugs in the living area removed and replaced with hardwood floors. Once the message 'here is a restroom' was removed she had no more accidents. She is the most loving little dog, beautiful and smart. She goes everywhere with me and is welcome in hotels as well as the homes of friends. So the moral of the story is -LOVE, PATIENCE AND CONSISTENCY
—Guest Christine Bailey

Rats anyone?????

A few years ago I adopted a few rats from the local shelter because I wanted a small pets that I could keep in my rented room. When I went to the shelter I found a few lonely little rats that seemed to need a little attention. Well, because they and I needed company, I took them home and thus began my best experience in pet ownership. I have lived with pets all my life from dogs on down to hermit crabs; so I knew the benefits of animals in ones life. I have to say though that having these companions (I got three females and one male who I later neutered to prevent propagation) was probably the best experience in my life. They learned to do so many things from tricks to just greating my arrival after a long days school work. Had they not been in my life I'm not sure that I could have completed school. Unfortunately because of all their history, justified or not, people are afraid of them. I want to say that from personal experience THEY ARE GREAT!!!!!

Celebrities and their dogs

Wonderful article. I have followed Hilary Swank's efforts on behalf of rescue and adoption with great interest, and admire her devotion. After reading Dr. Nancy Kay's two articles on puppy mills on her Speaking for Spot blog I couldn't help but think what a misleading picture is so often given to the public with the highly publicized “adoptions” when celebrities buy their dogs at pet stores and online puppy vendors. Most recently it was one of the Jonas brothers but it has been many others before. For one, I’d love to see more of the Hilary Swank type efforts and no publicity at all to the pet store purchasing celebrities. There is so much work to be done in this arena. After all, it is all about our most wonderful canine companions.

A Rewarding Arrangement

I now have 2 adopted dogs. Since I really love German Shepherds and have always had them, I adopted my first dog, Emmie, from a GSD adoption. This adoption is arranged locally with shelters and volunteers from the South. How rewarding it is to see a very scared and under socialized dog turn into a happy member of your family. My second adoption is because I volunteer at a local MSPCA. This is my "happy place". It is so much fun and you feel you are making a difference in both people and animal's lives. I highly recommend it! I found Bandit, my little "mini border collie" who really is a papillion mix there. He has brought such fun and laughs into our lives and taught my serious minded Shepherd how to play and have fun. As the article mentions, you really need to think this commitment out but if you are up for the task it brings many benefits. If you can't adopt, try volunteering. You can get your "fix" with the animals and feel like you are doing something positive!
—Guest Cheryl


We adopted Belle 14 years ago, from the local humane society. She was skinny, itchy, hand shy, and had ear infections, but she was gorgeous and I fell for her immediately. The first vet I took her to when I adopted her, said she would always be a sickly problem dog with her ears and skin issues and felt that she should have been euthanized rather than adopted out. We got a new vet who treated her skin allergies and ear infections and we taught her that hands were for petting, not hitting. She gained weight, started sleeping on the furniture and became one of the family fairly quickly. She is now 15 and has been a happy healthy dog for all these years. Sure, she has had ear and skin issues from time to time, but with good care and good food, these are minor and we are so happy that she is part of our family.

Klik - Still Tiny After All These Years

We already had several cats, more than one were strays found on the street, when this tiny red kitten was found abandoned at a local convenience store. Mom resisted adding yet another cat to the family but we couldn't just leave him there and it was too late to take him to a shelter. Super tiny and malnourished we didn't think he'd make it but we took him home and nursed him back to health. When we took 3 of our other cats in to be neutered we took Klik too. Found out he was a SHE at that point. Despite her tiny size -- she's still really small 3 years later -- Klik holds her own with all our other cats and the dogs and is a sweet and friendly little gal.
—Guest Lilly J.

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