IS A RES­CUE AN­I­MAL right for you?

ADOPT­ING A SHEL­TER AN­I­MAL WILL SAVE A LIFE, WHILE ALSO MAK­ING YOURS BET­TER

New Zealand Woman’s Weekly - - PET SPECIAL -

Adding a pet to your fam­ily can be an in­cred­i­bly re­ward­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. But though it’s tempt­ing to head to the pet shop or seek out a breeder, hun­dreds of un­wanted an­i­mals across the coun­try are wait­ing at pet res­cue or­gan­i­sa­tions for new homes.

“Res­cue an­i­mals make won­der­ful pets,” says vet Dr Mag­do­line Awad. “Many an­i­mals have been the sub­ject of cru­elty, so it’s lovely to think you have saved them.”

FIND THE RIGHT SHEL­TER From coun­cil-run pounds to na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions like the SPCA, there are a variety of adop­tion shel­ters around.

“Look for a shel­ter that has friendly, knowl­edge­able staff who know the an­i­mals’ per­son­al­i­ties and what kind of home and lifestyle they would suit,” says vet Dr Chris­tine Cole. “It’s good to do a bit of re­search be­fore vis­it­ing a shel­ter. Find out if the shel­ter vac­ci­nates its an­i­mals, if it does tem­per­a­ment as­sess­ments, if it has a pro­gramme that en­sures in­ter­ac­tion and en­rich­ment for the an­i­mals in its care and if pets are de­sexed.”

If you’re af­ter a par­tic­u­lar breed, there are spe­cial­ist or­gan­i­sa­tions ded­i­cated to re­hom­ing some pedi­grees, such as the grey­hound group grey­hound­saspets.org.nz.

FIND YOUR PER­FECT MATCH It’s im­por­tant to re­search what type of an­i­mal is suit­able for you be­fore head­ing to the shel­ter be­cause in the heat of the mo­ment, emo­tions can over­ride sen­si­ble de­ci­sions.

Think about your lifestyle and how much time you can fea­si­bly spend each day on groom­ing and ex­er­cise. Don’t adopt an ac­tive pooch if you can’t take it for long walks, or a long-haired cat if you don’t have time to brush it every day.

“Don’t for­get to con­sider the breed’s traits,” adds Dr Cole. “For ex­am­ple, be mindful of the health prob­lems that are com­mon in pure­breds, such as joint is­sues in larger breeds and heart con­di­tions in cava­liers.” AN OLDIE BUT A GOLDIE Ev­ery­one loves the charm of a play­ful puppy or a cud­dly kit­ten, but they can be a lot of work.

It can be like rais­ing a child – you’ll find your­self hav­ing to toi­let-train them, run around af­ter them and stop them from putting ev­ery­thing in their mouths.

So why not con­sider adopt­ing an older pet? They might not be as ex­cit­ing as their younger counterparts, but they’re just as lov­able and, in most cases, they’re eas­ier to look af­ter.

“Se­nior pets – aged nine years and older – are ideal for peo­ple look­ing for low­main­te­nance com­pan­ions,” says Dr Cole. “They usu­ally adapt well to sub­ur­ban and in­ner-city liv­ing and they are prob­a­bly the most re­ward­ing to adopt as you can re­ally see how grate­ful they are for a warm bed, a few cud­dles and a bit of at­ten­tion.” UN­DER­STAND­ING YOUR PET Choos­ing a pet from a shel­ter means you need to be mindful of the life they lived be­fore you came along. Many cats and dogs liv­ing in res­cue homes were aban­doned by their own­ers – leav­ing the shel­ter staff with lit­tle to no in­for­ma­tion on their his­tory – so it’s es­sen­tial to be pa­tient with your new an­i­mal.

“If a pet has had a bad past, you need to be un­der­stand­ing,” says Karen Rid­dell, an an­i­mal re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion ex­pert.

“If they haven’t had a chance to learn ba­sic man­ners be­cause they’ve been locked up in some­body’s back­yard on their own for the past 12 months, let­ting them loose straight away in your home and ex­pect­ing them to be well be­haved is un­re­al­is­tic.”

Work with your new friend. Com­mu­ni­cate clearly, don’t yell, and be sure to re­in­force good be­hav­iour with treats like a tasty bone or a cud­dle.

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