If you’ve found a stray animal that doesn’t have any ID or a microchip, you may decide that you want to take it home with you. This is a viable alternative to leaving them in the shelter, but this doesn’t mean that the cat or dog is yours. A pet counts as someone’s property, so everything possible must be done to find the owners. If you do want to adopt a stray, we have a few tips to help you through the process.
Be Prepared to Say Goodbye
If you have found a sweet animal on the streets that you want to join your family, you must first check to see if it is microchipped. If it isn’t, then there is a ‘hold’ period, which differs in every state. It’s usually around 30 days, before you can legally adopt the animal. In that time, the owners may come forward, so don’t keep the animal at home if you are going to have a hard time saying goodbye. The shelter will hold them, and you can be contacted to have first rights on adoption after the hold period. At the same time, the owners may not come forward, so if the animal is ill, you may be left with vets bills if you take it to be checked out. Not all shelters will be able to afford expensive treatment, so they may not be able to keep the animal.
Do Everything You Can to Find the Owners
No matter what condition you found the animal in, remember that this might be someone’s pet that has been missing for a long time, and everything possible needs to be done to try and track them down. Think about how you would feel if your pet had gone missing! Print out fliers and put them out around the area. The best way to find an owner is to head online. Post on Craigslist, Facebook, and other local sites with pictures of the pet to help them be reunited.
Introducing the Pet to Your Home
If you decide to take the dog or cat home instead of leaving them at the shelter, you still need to follow the legal hold period before they are yours to keep. If you already have pets, make sure that you introduce them to each other slowly, as there’s no telling what the stray’s reaction will be. After being on the streets for a while, they may be quite nervous, and this can lead to aggression towards other pets and children. Be careful with the introductions, particularly if you do have kids. If the pet doesn’t settle, this is a sign that they need to be in a pet and child free home, so the best thing to do is to bring them back to the shelter.
Kit Yourself Out
If this is your first pet, a trip to the store might be in order! Whether you wait until the hold period is over or not, bringing a pet home for the first time, particularly one that has been a stray, is no easy task. Make sure you have food and water bowls for them, as well as a lead and somewhere for them to sleep. Cats will need a litter box as well. Be gentle with your pet when they first arrive, they have been through a lot and so might be sensitive to certain things for a while.
After the Hold Period
Once the hold period is up, if the pet you want to adopt is at the shelter, make sure that you get down first thing in the morning on the day they are up for adoption. If you don’t, you may waive your first rights on adoption.
There you have it, our advice for anyone looking to adopt a stray that they’ve found. Adopting a stray is the best way to get a pet, so if the pets owners do come forward, consider another visit to your local shelter to find a new furry friend.