Questions That You Should Be Asking When You Adopt

You did it! You decided to save a life and adopt. You’re now at your local shelter — with no idea where to start.

Adopting from a shelter is a great decision and one that saves thousands of animals every year. However, it can be a confusing process when you are faced with a mountain of paperwork and an animal that may need a little extra love.

This article will be a great guide when navigating the adoption process and what you should expect. 

General Questions

Why should I adopt from the VBSPCA?

The medical care that shelter animals receive at the VBSPCA is unparalleled. Every single animal is checked out by our clinic staff upon arrival and receives a full vet exam prior to being adopted. Senior pets have bloodwork taken to give adopters a full snapshot of the animal’s health. In addition to the high level of medical care the animals receive at the VBSPCA, the staff and volunteers are dedicated to every single animal and make sure that each one receives love and attention.

Another unique service VBSPCA shelter animals receive is behavior training. Certain animals in need of extra attention get one-on-one time with our companion pet trainer to help improve behavior, obedience, and socialization. 

The adoption fee covers the microchip, rabies vaccine, senior pet bloodwork, and spay/neuter when applicable. All puppy adoptions come with a 6-week Pet Academy obedience classes to make sure the relationship is set up for success.  

Why should I adopt from the VBSPCA instead of from a breeder?

Many breeders are humane and do things the right way. However, when you adopt from the VBSPCA, you are providing support to animals in need and preventing animal homelessness. When you adopt, you’re not only providing an animal a loving home, you’re making room for another animal in need.  

What should I do if I plan on moving or deploying in the future? While moving and deployment can be difficult, it doesn’t have to be the reason you give up your friend. Make sure that you have a plan in place on how you will transport your animal if you move. If you are being deployed, our shelter staff recommends having a plan in place for pet care before coming to adopt.

Is there any specific breed experience I need before adopting my pet? Breed does not necessarily determine temperament, but there are some traits that are stronger in some breeds. Research is your best friend in this situation, and before adopting a specific breed, make sure that you are prepared to handle their temperament before making the commitment to bring them home. 

How much space do I need for my new friend? Although you may want to give that cuddly Saint Bernard a great home, it may not be the ideal size for your two bedroom apartment.  

What should I bring to the shelter when I am ready to put in an application? You should bring with you a valid Photo ID, a copy of your mortgage statement or lease stating your landlord’s Pet Policy and your landlord’s name and phone number. If you have other pets, bring in their vaccination records and your veterinarian’s name and phone number.

Other Questions


What allergies should I be aware of? It’s not just cat hair allergies you have to watch out for! Some people discover they are sensitive to cat litter as well. However, most cat allergies are manageable and will get better with time. 

Will an older cat or younger cat be better for my living situation? Kittens easily adapt to their new surroundings and usually adjust well to their new homes. Depending on their personality, older cats may need a specific type of household in order to thrive. Understanding what type of lifestyle you have will help in finding the right fit for your family. 


Can I adopt siblings? The VBSPCA typically does not allow siblings to be adopted together to prevent a pack mentality from forming. However, on rare occasions, we do allow bonded pairs to be adopted together due to their connection with the other dog. 

Since I am adopting from a shelter, does that mean my dog will be housebroken? Not every dog from the VBSPCA will be house trained, but many of our older dogs will often have experience in homes.

If I already have a cat, how do I make sure the dog I am hoping to adopt will get along? We will do a cat test with either a friendly or reactive cat and determine whether that specific dog can 

Do I need to crate train? Crate training provides a dog with a safe space and peace of mind if you need to leave your home for short periods of time. 

Small Animals

How much noise should I be prepared for? Small animals make a lot of noise at night! Be prepared for a lot of scurrying and scratching.

How much of a time commitment is a small animal? Some small animals, like hamsters, do not require a huge time commitment. Rabbits and guinea pigs, on the other hand, are very social creatures and have specific needs that take up time. 

How noisy is my home? Noisy homes can stress out a small animal. Make sure your home is the right fit! 

What are bonded pairs and what should I be prepared for? Bonded pairs are two animals that have a special connection to each after spending a lot of time together. Many bonded pairs are opposites — one is standoffish and the other is extremely friendly. There is nothing wrong with this and that does not mean they should be separated. Be willing to open up your home to both of them because that will be the ideal situation for both animals!