We’ve all seen the commercials for the adoption of lonely, abandoned, neglected or abused animals that desperately need a forever home. They are so gut wrenching that many people openly admit they have to change the channel before they become a quivering mess. The same goes with the news or Internet stories featuring these pitiful creatures with their pleading eyes staring out at us beckoning for kindness and compassion in connection to their plight. While we may want to instantly help, are we really up to the challenge?
Adopting Special Needs Pets
This question is by no means intended to dissuade you from rescuing an animal that needs help. The problem is, though, that a lot of us experience knee-jerk reactions and end up biting off more than we can chew. Having a big heart is great, but being up to the job is just as important. Before you let your emotions carry you away, it’s seriously important to calmly and rationally explore the realities of taking on some of the hardest adoption cases out there. Otherwise, you could end up doing the animal a disservice.
Time On Your Hands
Not everyone has the luxury of nearly unlimited time on their hands. Unless you live in the U.K. and you have an employer like BrewDog Brewery, who, believe it or not, not only encourages their employees to adopt pets but offers them paid leave in order to do it, a lot of distressed animals will require substantial amounts of time in order to help them properly adjust.
Bringing an animal home that is in a fragile mental of physical state is a huge responsibility. You can’t just bring it home and leave for work the next morning and expect it to be all right. In fact, initially it may end up unsettling the animal even further. This is where a reality check is in order. Unless you’re retired or a trust fund baby, ask yourself how you will manage the number of hours a day the animal may require of your time and immediate attention.
Caring for Animals in Ill Health
This is another huge undertaking. Not only do you need to, in all likelihood, have time at your disposal when nursing an ill animal, but the costs associated with it could quickly lead well beyond your financial means. Ask yourself first whether you will be able to devote the time needed to nurse it back to health and whether you can honestly afford it. Good intentions aside, this is the reality of adopting a pet with medical needs. If it’s going to bankrupt you, you’ll both end up on the streets.
You can always start a GoFundMe page or any other type of fund raising event to offset the possibly thousands of dollars a year you may need to care for the animal, but being realistic is a necessity in these cases.
Patience is a Virtue
Another item you’ll need to cross off your checklist for adopting a special needs pet is patience, and not just your own. If you have a spouse or kids or even roommates, they, too, will come into contact with the animal. Patience is paramount to successfully reintroducing many of these damaged animals back into life. Some of them are so messed up it could take months or even years before they begin to respond.
And it’s not just being timid. They may have house training issues or aggression issues or an inability or unwillingness to take food or medication. Again, are you up to the task?
A Healthy Environment
In order to provide a good home you will also need to have a living environment conducive to the particular animal you are thinking of adopting. Do you have enough room? Is your home quiet enough for animals recovering from illness or abuse or even animals suffering from noise issues? Do you have stairs? Do you have a fenced yard? Do you live in an apartment where if the animal comes unhinged with separation anxiety the minute you leave you might eventually be facing giving the animal up or eviction?
All of these questions in each of these paragraphs are not only legitimate, but will undoubtedly be asked when you volunteer or apply for the adoption — at least by any responsible group trying to place pets in forever homes. And there’s a good reason for that. Matching pets with proper pet parents and their environments is essential to reducing return rates. The last thing the animal needs is to be uprooted again.
Ensuring a Perfect Fit
Finally, you need to put some thought into the type of animal and breed you’re considering rescuing. While a neglected or abused animal may be suffering in one form or another, that may not have any affect on their energy levels. Can you keep up with a Jack Russell, or would you be better off with a couch potato? If you travel a lot and you have the luxury of bringing your pet along, would they travel well? Are you really suited for one another? Your heart might be in the right place but will the animal be if it’s placed with you?
Getting Down to the Nitty Gritty
All in all, it boils down to what is in the animal’s best interest. Will your adopting them be beneficial to them in the long run? Sure, you’d be getting them out of a bad situation, but there may be someone more suited to their special needs. Remember, you can always volunteer as a foster pet parent if the situation is dire and you’re willing to care for them until a better long-term fit comes along once they’re well on the road to recovery. Now, go forth and ponder!