When your pet adoption goes wrong.

by | August 24, 2018

There’s poop on your carpet, the cat has gone into hiding, and your neighbors are giving you the stink eye whenever you step foot outside your house. Pet adoption isn’t always a magical experience! What can you do when your new family member is causing disharmony? Before you hotfoot it back to the shelter to return your furry friend, here are some simple steps to take to get you on your way to a happy home.

Seek help

Your first step should be to contact the rescue you adopted from. A good rescue organization will be there to help you post-adoption with training tips, background info, and sensible advice based on years of experience. Be realistic and honest when answering questions so you get the best advice possible. Take note of all the little details like food and water intake, toileting, and energy levels to assist the shelter staff in ruling out any medical issues, which can be the cause of many behavioural troubles.

Be patient

Take a step back and consider what this all looks like from your furry friend’s point of view. There is a multitude of reasons why they may not be settling in.

Some shelter animals are lucky enough to spend the bulk of their pre- pet adoption time in a cozy foster home. Unfortunately for many of them, the days, weeks, or even months leading up to the happy day you took them home were spent in unhappy circumstances as a stray or unloved pet, followed by some time in the shelter. Shelter workers love their charges but it is far from the ideal place to live.

If your new family member is timid or irritable, toileting in inappropriate places, barking, scratching furniture, or otherwise causing issues, give them what they are truly seeking – love and patience. It can be hard to adjust to their new life and they will need your help to make a smooth transition.


Get educated

Dog (and other animal) training is often referred to as ‘obedience’ but the reality is we need to educate ourselves on the best way to communicate with our companion animals. Enlist the help of a qualified animal behaviorist to break down the language barrier using positive, force-free methods. Your rescue organization may be able to provide you with a list of suggested trainers in your local area.


Work as a team

You wouldn’t expect to bring a new baby home and have just one person interact with them, right? The same goes for pet adoption. The whole family needs to be on the same page and work towards easing your rescue into your home and your lives.

Don’t be afraid to call it quits if your pet adoption isn’t working

In an ideal world, every shelter animal would find their perfect match in the first human who adopts them, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes, despite everyone’s best efforts, a rescue animal needs to be returned to the shelter to have another shot at finding ‘the one’. If your new companion animal just doesn’t get along with your established furry family member or you’ve realized that you’ve overestimated the time you’ll be able to dedicate and they have way too much energy for your lifestyle, don’t force it. Contact the shelter you adopted from and provide them with any info that may help them find the right home the next time around.

Adopting from an animal rescue can be a positive, rewarding experience for everyone involved, but don’t be disheartened if your first adoption goes awry. There are millions of animals in shelters across the world looking for love. Your perfect new furry family member is out there somewhere, just waiting for you to take them in and show them that the world is a pretty great place, after all!

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Kate Timmins

First-time mama living in Adelaide, South Australia. When I’m not at home enjoying the company of my partner, our gorgeous baby boy, and our five rescue cats I love to spend my time walking along our local beaches and trying new foods from the growing number of vegan eateries in our city. I’m proud to be a foster carer for my local animal rescue; I believe that saving one animal may not change the world, but it will change the world for that animal! Follow me on Instagram for cats, baby, beaches, and tasty vegan food.

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