A little chat about luck ….

It is no secret that I love to garden! What is not to love? It is a creative hobby that adds beauty to my yard! I get lots of fresh air and exercise doing something that I love! Best of all of course is that in my own small way, I have been creating a friendly environment for the local birds, wildlife and even the bees!

So one would imagine that I am out and about skulking the seasonal garden center sales, eh? Actually not! Why? Well THAT answer is simple! Setting aside the simple fact that there is no way to tell where those plants come from and what chemicals have been used on them …. experience has taught me shop local!

Why? Our local nurseries generally only sell stock that will actually thrive in our particular climate! More importantly, their employees bring a wealth of hands on experience to the advice they can offer! Really , it is almost frosting on the cake that shopping local is just good for the community!

This is also a popular time of year to get a pet! All that nice weather makes folks more fond of the idea of dog walking! Of puppy training!

Happily pet adoption is becoming a more popular choice! Of course the flip side of that is that there will always be some folks eager to capitalize on any trend!

So how is a first time pet adopter to choose? The same way they would choose anything else … by doing their homework! How can they do that?

1. Ask , ask , ask ! Ask the local vet clinics who they would recommend! Ask friends and neighbours and coworkers! And last but definitely not least, ask the positive dog trainers for recommendations!

2. Be social network savvy! It is the rare group that does not have an open Facebook page these days! There should be a LOT of valuable information there …. including available adoptables, upcoming events where folks can meet them and successful happy tails. It should also provide a sense of how the group ‘does business’ ! If pets with unknown histories are coming in and out the door without being assessed, folks should run .. not walk to the next rescue on the short list!

3, Do a little digging! Anyone living in Nova Scotia can search the Joint Stock Registries to find out about non-profit and profit groups. Bear in mind that will only tell you if the group is registered and that the only screening done for this process is that the paperwork is in order! Folks can also check the CRA database for charities which are CRA registered. It is important to note that obtaining CRA status is a long process and that new groups should not be discounted because they do not have it.

But, here in the real world ….. most people fall in love with the pet first! Something about the cute face … or the quirky ears … or the adorable underbite … moves their heart to say ‘this is the one for us’!

Still, there are some questions that should be asked of the rescue or shelter before jumping in head first!

  • Will the rescue guarantee that they will definitely take this pet back into care if the adoption is NOT a success? This is such a critical one that I have actually stopped listing any rescues that will not immediately take any of their adoptables back on the homeless pet site! Why? Because here in the real world, no matter how carefully one screens, adopters may not be as confident and experienced as the foster moms and shelter workers were! The adopter’s cats may not be as dog savvy as the foster’s were! For any one of a myriad of reasons that have nothing to do with the pet or the person, sometimes things are just not a good fit! At the end of the day, refusing to take a pet back right away risks both the life of the pet and the reputation of all rescues, eh?
  • What training methods are used by the rescue? If there is any evidence of shock collar training … run do not walk to the next rescue on your list! Negative reinforcement inspires fear based behaviour that can pose a risk for family, neighbours and other pets!
  • Is there an evaluation period? How do they assess pets? While there are occasions where owned and well cared for pets can move smoothly from their old life to their new home, that is the exception rather than the rule! The assessment period also protects adopters by providing the time needed to properly medically assess the pet so there are no Unhappy surprises waiting for the adopter!
  • Is there an application form? Will one have to provide references AND a vet reference? Will there be a home visit before the adoption? Is support available after? If not .. run do not walk to the next rescue on your list!

Things not to worry about …..

  • there was a time when every rescue had a Petfinder account! These days, many rescues are finding that their Facebook pages yield better results … without the recurring technical glitches that Petfinder has been experiencing since it was sold to Purina last year.
  • CRA status only matters if you need tax receipts for any donations. Please remember that adoption fees are not normally considered donations and as such would not be tax-deductible.
  • Any thirteen year old can build a fancy website! Web sites are only important if they are full of useful information that includes many Happy Tails, adoption and surrender applications, adoption and surrender fees. etc … Be very leery of any website that is long on asking donations and short on specifics!

And don’t be offended if …. you did not get approved for this pet! There is a reason reputable rescues screen properly, eh? This way the adorable ‘opera singer’ with separation anxiety does not wind up briefly living in an apartment! Couch potatoes need to be paired up, eh? The bottom line is that experienced rescues know that any relationship takes work … but they still needs some common ground to start with!

What time is it? It is always time to applaud the folks who want to adopt a pet! But it is always, always time for adopters to do a little homework, so they can really put their heart into adopting a pet!

Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity. Oprah Winfrey

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