Have you been dreaming of the day that you can scoop up your adopted pet from the local shelter and hold her in your arms? Have you imagined the surprised expressions on your children’s faces as you walked through the front door with their new brother or sister? Or have you been dreading that day, and keep trying to come up with new excuses for not having a pet? [photo via flickr]
Well, the jig is up, because April 30th is National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day–and while we’re not trying to get you to rush out a pick up a new pet, it’s a good day to at least start giving it serious thought.
Since this is an adoption, it would be ideal if all family members were included in the details and preparation leading up to bringing your pet home. It is best to go to the animal shelter with the intention of adopting that day. You and your children can discuss the importance of caring for a new family member; be it feeding time, walks, and potty training or puppy destruction clean up. Each person in the family should have an assigned responsibility to care for your new baby. These roles can rotate once everyone gets the hang of their duty. Below are some talking points to hash out before you set off for your visit to the shelter:
- What kind of animal would you like to get? Make sure you explain that your ideal dog may not be in the shelter, so you have to let your heart and intuition lead you to your new family member.
- Once you are there, many animals will capture your heart but you will be taking home only one of them. This can be very hard to understand, as even the smallest family member knows that these animals could be in danger if they are not adopted soon. There is a sense of urgency, to be the ultimate hero and save them all. Explain that what you are doing is what your family can offer to provide in your household. If you were to take them all you would not be able to properly take care of them.
- Adults should interact with the animals first to see which one is safe and does not bite. When you have found some gentle animals, you can take your children into the pen and see which one they bond with naturally.
- Once you have adopted your animal, keep that date as their official family birthday and celebrate it each year.
Adopting a shelter pet is an honorable thing to do. You are saving an animal that may not otherwise have a chance in this world, and also teaching your children to be responsible–while reaching out to the less fortunate. So good luck with the adoption process, and your new family member.