Clear the Shelters: How to Prep Your Home, Family for a New Pet | NBC Bay Area
Clear the Shelters

Clear the Shelters


Clear the Shelters: How to Prep Your Home, Family for a New Pet

Now that you're committed to bringing home a shelter pet, how should you prepare?



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    A happy dog hangs his head out the car window.

    You’ve made the decision: You are ready to bring home a furry friend. But now that you're committed, how should you prepare your home and family for the new addition?

    Here are a few tips from Rena Lafaille, administrative manager of the ASPCA adoption center in New York City. 

    What should the pet owner have at home?
    For the first-time dog owner, all the basics: leash, collar and harness, which we provide here, and a crate so that the dog can be properly trained and not pee and poop all over the house.

    They also need food, treats and toys so they are occupied when they are finally home. Before you leave a shelter, we give you samples of the food he is accustomed to, until you've decided what food you want to give them.

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    For a cat, it will be kind of similar, with a breakaway collar with an identification tag. We also recommend a litter box in a designated spot in the apartment, a bed, and cat toys or a wand. 

    Do I need to have a veterinarian on hand as soon as I pick up my pet?
    All of our shelter animals come fully vaccinated, spayed or neutered and with a microchip. We will send you home with a healthy animal, and if they have a medical issue we give you enough medication until you can cover your own.

    We also have an animal hospital at the shelter that we recommend to our clients, but you are free to go to someone that is closer to home. 

    How should I prepare my current pet to share my home with a new pet?
    For dogs, we like to tell people to bring the dog to the center to do a meet-and-greet. For cats, it’s a bit more challenging, but at the shelter we would show them cats that are already living with other cats as a way to see them in a somewhat normal setting.

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    When you bring them home, it is a slow introduction for the new dog. The resident dog already has its territory. They figure out themselves where they are going to sleep. 

    What should I know before I adopt a pet?
    The biggest thing is to make sure that everyone in the family, roommates and even currents pets are on board to make sure the new pet will be part of the family. All members of the family will be part of taking care of the dog or cat, whether it is playing, exercising or cleaning after them. 

    How does my lifestyle affect the kind of pet I should adopt?
    It all depends on what your life is like. An active person wants a high-energy dog who is into running and being outside. A homebody should get an older dog that is more relax and trained. That goes along the lines of choosing puppies instead of older dogs. They require a lot of time and hard work; it is like raising a baby. They require basic obedience training, and are more energetic that older dogs. Adult dogs have a more established personality, if you want something more manageable than a puppy.

    How does my location factor in?
    Every dog and cat has individual characteristics so we base it more on the lifestyle and personality of the potential owner. Because even if you live in a big house with a yard, if your personality doesn’t match with the animal, it doesn’t matter what kind of space you have.

    More than 53,000 pets were adopted through the 2016 Clear the Shelters campaign, a nationwide push to place deserving animals in forever homes. Join the conversation on social media using #ClearTheShelters.