Adopting Small Animals

Adoption has become pretty widespread over the years, and more and more people are turning to local shelters to find their new dog or cat - but did you know that there are tons of shelters out there for small animals, too?

If you look around you'll find rescues for rabbits, rats, reptiles, name it.

How do you find them?
 They can sometimes hide right under your nose.  Checking petfinder and asking your local pet shops, pound, and SPCA can be a great start.  Small animal shelters also sometimes post pets for adoption or advertise on craigslist, or perhaps in the local paper's classifieds.  You can also do a simple Google search for your city, state, or area and the animal you are looking to adopt.  Don't toss out phone numbers you find for rescues of the wrong sort of animal - a rabbit rescue might know more about local cavy rescues, or the rat adoptions in the area, etc.

What do they cost?
  Adopting a small animal from a shelter will certainly not be as hard on your wallet as adopting a dog or cat, since they don't usually require the same kind of care to prepare them for going to a new home.  It's quite possible, however, that a rare or neglected reptile or exotic might run you a pretty penny, but it's very rare that it would cost more than buying the animal from a pet shop - they want to find it a new home, after all!  In the end it will depend on the rescue.  Some rescues will give pets away for free provided you are a responsible pet owner, and some run on adoption fees to keep their animals fed and medicated.  Don't be afraid to ask!

Nonprofit shelters versus individual rescuers
 There is a difference between a nonprofit rescue organization and a person who takes in homeless or needy animals.  It's not necessarily wrong to adopt from the latter, as they are frequently good people just trying to help the animals, but they are generally on a smaller scale with much more limited means to care for the creatures they take in.  This means they will have fewer animals (one hopes), and will often run the rescue from their home.  There is NOTHING wrong with private rescues and there are numerous excellent ones out there, but I urge you to check out the owner and their setup before agreeing to adopt.  There are a few "rescues" out there that simply buy up pets from their pet shops and adopt them out.

Nonprofit rescues receive tax exempt status from the government, can accept tax-deductible donations, and are more likely to receive sponsorship from local businesses.  What this means is that people are usually more willing to donate to them, so their financial means that allow them to care for animals and acquire a facility for them are slightly more optimistic.  This allows a nonprofit to care for a greater number of animals, and to have volunteers without having to invite people into their home.  A nonprofit organization is a much more active entity in the community, and are generally held to higher standards as such.

So what does this mean?  Not much, ha, except that it's important to realize the differences between the two forms of small animal rescues so you know what to expect, what to look for, and if your adoption fee or donations are tax deductible.  A nonprofit animal rescue is an organization, whereas a private rescue is usually a person.

How to pick a new pet from a rescue
  Use the same standards you would when selecting from a pet shop, allowing for any permanent injuries that may have resulted from previous care.  A good rescue will not adopt out a pet that still needs care or is not ready for a new home - some illnesses you bring home could transfer to another pet, so all animals should be healthy.

Look for clear eyes, appropriately textured skin, no missing scales, fur, or feathers.  Before you adopt, ask about the diet the animal is being kept on, special care requirements, and if anything is known about its stay with its previous owner.  Why was it given up?  How does it get along with any other pets you might have?  Has it been quarantined to check for important behavioral cues or illness, or is it brand new to the shelter?

Do Adopt, Do Not Adopt
DO ADOPT if the animal is healthy, appropriately energetic, and socialized.
DO ADOPT if you have a cage or setup already ready, and the means to maintain care.
DO ADOPT if the rescue seems clean, professional, and legitimate.

DO NOT ADOPT if the animal is still sick, malnourished, or has open wounds.
DO NOT ADOPT if the animal has not been quarantined away from the other rescue animals.
DO NOT ADOPT if the rescue owner seems unprofessional or is buying the animals from shops.
DO NOT ADOPT if the rescue area or cages seem inappropriately dirty and unsanitary.
DO NOT ADOPT if you don't already have a place and the time/money for the animal - spontaneous buys lead to numerous animals placed up for adoption.  If needed, take a few days to think it over first and ask the person to keep the animal reserved for you in that time.

I hope you consider adoption for your next animal, or maybe someday start your very own Rescue!

Thanks for reading!
Miss Mouse
<:3 )~

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