Where to adopt a pet

Whether you’re looking to get your first pet, or add another to your household, there are several avenues you can explore. One of these is adoption through an animal shelter or rescue centre. Here’s everything you need to know about adopting a pet.

Shelters and rescue centres house animals that have been neglected, abandoned or abused, or are no longer able to be cared for – and they are awaiting loving new owners.

When choosing to adopt a rescue pet, you’ll be giving a second chance to one of the thousands of animals that are waiting to be adopted ‘through no fault of their own’, says Steve Craddock, centre manager at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home London. ‘Rescue animals are just like any others looking for a home.’

By choosing a pet from a rescue centre, ‘you know more about the animal’s background and personality’, explains Steve. ‘There is professional advice given, as well as a thorough matching process, which helps find [owners] the ideal pet, but also helps animals find their perfect home.’

Petplan charity partners

A key part of our work involves partnering with a range of charities – the majority of whom are dedicated to rescuing and caring for animals in need and finding them loving new homes. Battersea Dogs & Cats HomeBlue CrossCats Protection and Dogs Trust are just some of the charities we work with – and, in recognition of the vital role our partner charities play in animals’ lives, if you adopt a cat or dog through one of their centres, you’ll receive 4 weeks free Petplan insurance.

How to find a dog rescue centre

With hundreds of pet rehoming centres out there, it can be hard to know where to start searching. A good port of call is our Rehome a Pet page, where a quick location search reveals local dog, cat, rabbit and horse rescue centres. While many centres take dogs of all shapes and sizes, some cater to specific breeds, such as Greyhounds (usually ex-racers). Friends and family could also recommend centres nearby, and a Google search is always helpful.

Top pet rescue centres

Thanks to TV shows providing behind-the-scenes access, the centres run by Battersea Dogs & Cats Home and Blue Cross are some of the best known. However, there are a host of other leading rescue organisations, including Cats Protection, which rehomes more than 200,000 felines each year, and Dogs Trust, which cares for around 16,000 canines annually. While larger charities tend to be better known, don’t forget there are still pets in ‘many local rescue centres nearby that you may not have realised existed’, adds Steve.

How to adopt a rescue dog

Once you’ve decided to adopt a rescue animal, the process is straightforward. For example, most dog rescue centres share photos of their animals online so that once you’ve spotted a dog or puppy you’d like to potentially give a new home to, you can simply fill in the online application form.

It’s easy to fall for a cute, fluffy face, but when choosing a rescue dog, there are a number of important factors to consider. These include the personality characteristics associated with the breed, how much exercise the dog or puppy needs, whether it has any specific medical conditions, and how likely it is to happily coexist with other household members, including children and other pets. It’s important to pick a breed of dog that will fit with your home, family and lifestyle.

Another avenue could be to adopt a retired guide dog. Did you know that a number of aspiring guide dogs are withdrawn from training because they don’t make the grade? These canines can make great family pets, and are always looking for homes.

If you think you could offer a home to an older dog, then your perfect pet may be waiting for you at Oldies Club. This voluntary organisation is looking for people to provide a loving home for these furry seniors who can make ideal pets for first-time owners.

How to adopt a rescue cat

If you’re looking to adopt a new cat or kitten, there are plenty of cat rehoming centres that follow the same process. The cat rehoming centre will arrange for you to visit and meet with one of their staff members to set the ball in motion for meeting and taking home your new feline friend.

How to adopt a rescue rabbit

When adopting rescue rabbits, it’s important to find a good shelter that neuters and vaccinates their rabbits. The rabbit shelter should want to rehome rabbits in pairs or as a pair to an existing rabbit. It may also want to do a home check to ensure that you can offer a suitable home to rabbits. As rabbits are territorial, it’s best to pair pets from opposite genders. A good shelter will be able to advise on making introductions if you are looking for a new companion for an existing pet.

How to adopt a rescue horse

There are a number of equine rehoming schemes in the UK. You will usually be able to find their requirements by visiting their websites. It is worth noting that many horses that are in need of rehoming have particular welfare needs and are not suitable for first-time horse owners.

How to adopt a pet from abroad

It’s not just in the UK that dogs are awaiting new owners. There are numerous websites with rescue dogs (and, in many cases, cats) available for international adoption from countries such as Spain, Romania and Thailand.

While these charities provide support, it’s worth taking into consideration that adopting from abroad is costlier and more time-consuming, and you likely won’t be able to meet your new pet before it arrives.

Prior to its arrival, your pet will need a travel fare, a passport, vaccinations and a microchip, which will all come with costs attached. Upon landing in the UK, various service, handling and entry fees can prove expensive. Plus, registering with a local vet and checks for any potential medical concerns will also involve payment. Be sure to check the government’s official advice for bringing pets into the country.

Although adopting a pet from abroad can be a highly rewarding experience, it can be a long process. Undertaking additional paperwork, and allowing for quarantine, can take months. And, unlike with animals based in the UK, you won’t be able to introduce it to other members of your household, such as children and other pets, prior to adoption. Neither can you obtain a sound understanding of its temperament and behaviour, or its ability to adapt to your lifestyle – which can sometimes prove challenging when during the settling-in period.

Have you adopted a rescued cat or dog? Share your experiences with us on social media using the tag #PethoodStories

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