Congratulations, on your decision to adopt a companion animal. Whether you are adopting a dog, a cat, a bird, a horse or a potbellied pig, it is important that you find the rescue organization that will assist you in finding the forever friend that is right for you and your family.
At Four Feet Companion Foundation, we support several rescues and their important efforts on behalf of animals. Here’s what you should look for when selecting an organization:
• A responsible rescue places the welfare and happiness of the animal first. You should be allowed to tour the facilities — a quick walk-through will give you a sense of the overall hygiene and level of care provided. Animals should have access to water (if you don’t see any out, ask what their routine is) and have a living area free of feces and excessive dirt. The animals should be generally well kept, responsive and alert. If the dogs look lethargic, unresponsive or afraid, something may not be right. Don’t be afraid to ask.
• Sick animals should be isolated from healthy ones; a severely ill dog should not be mixed in with other dogs.
• A reputable rescue understands the limits of its resources and does not accept more animals than it has legal authority, finances and space/time to care for.
• Are the dogs placed in foster homes while they await adoption? How does the rescue organization screen its foster parents? Are periodic evaluations done to ensure ongoing viability of a foster home? Are you able to meet the foster parent?
• Rescues should have an adoption policy and a contract. They should screen every potential adopter with a mandatory home visit (whenever possible) before a pet is placed there. They will also require personal references, and follow up and check all references provided.
• A reputable rescue always takes its adopted animals back if the placement isn’t successful. They will also say no to an adopter if the adopter’s situation is not optimal for the animal; the contract should include a clause stating that the pet must be returned to the rescue if the adopter decides to relinquish the pet.
• A rescue will never place an animal as a surprise to the intended adopter or place an animal as a gift. They will always involve the recipient in the decision to adopt, the application process, the selection of the animal and a home visit. You should never adopt a pet sight unseen, or on the spot!
• In turn, rescue organizations should be able to provide references from shelters in their area, and in general should have good working relationships with those shelters.
• Remember, the goal is to match up the right pet with the right forever home!
• Reputable rescues will perform comprehensive physical exams on all the animals that they receive. They will make sure animals have had a thorough medical check by a licensed veterinarian to ensure the animals are up to date on all required vaccines (e.g., rabies, distemper) and that the animals are parasite- and heartworm-free. If veterinary care is required, the animals should receive the necessary attention and treatment. The adopter should be fully informed of the dog’s state of health prior to adoption, and the shelter or rescue should be able to provide medical records upon adoption.
• All pets should be spayed/neutered prior to being placed. If for any reason spaying/neutering is not done prior to placement (e.g., the pet is too young or has a medical reason), this must be included as a requirement within the adoption contract. The rescue should follow up to ensure the procedure has been completed.
• Please remember that, even when all the precautions are taken, there is a slight chance that an illness or condition may go undetected due to the nature of the ailment.
• Do the animals have microchip or tattoos for identification? If possible, it is best if the rescue/shelter’s name and new guardian’s contact information are both registered for the tattoo or microchip.
• The rescue will do some form of temperament testing to ensure that all animals available for adoption will be safe members of the community. The assessment will also help in making the optimal placement. Most rescues will need to have cared for the animal for a minimum of two weeks to allow time to assess temperament, the pet’s likes/dislikes and how it reacts in various situations with people and other animals. If a rescue doesn’t do this, it could be a reason to look elsewhere.
• You can ask if the animal you are considering has any behavioural issues. A good rescue will fully disclose this information to you.
• You can also ask what they do in cases if an animal is traumatized or distressed. Do they have a rehabilitation or re-training program? The majority should, or should be able to recommend animal trainers to you that deal with troubled animals.
• They will provide you with ongoing support and encouragement.
• A reputable rescue operates as a notfor-profit entity and/or registered charity. They do not operate for profit, nor will they use the animals in their care for breeding.
• Many rescues will prioritize animals from its own geographical area whenever possible. If this matters to you, ask where their rescued animals come from.
A good rescue will work carefully to match up the right pet with the right forever home based on the pet’s needs and personality, and the requirements, energy level and personality of the adopter. A reputable organization will help you make decisions about which animal is a good fit for your home and will not rush you through the process — and may even allow a trial period.
Always remember, the animal did not place themselves in the rescue. It is because of an unfortunate event in their lives that they are looking for you. Take your time when choosing your companion animal and rescue — we guarantee you your effort will pay off with a pawfect friendship!

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