How to adopt a rescue animal

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Owning a pet can bring so much to a person's life.

We already know the benefits of owning an animal. But sadly, the relationship between pet and owner is not always smooth, and some animals end up homeless and in care, through no fault of their own.

August 18 marks International Homeless Animal Day, so to help raise awareness of the day, the RSPCA has put together this guide on how you can save a rescue animal and make it your family’s new pet.

What are the benefits of having a pet?

Having an animal sidekick in your life can truly improve your health, wellbeing and way of living. A pet can keep you healthy by boosting your immune system and can reduce the stress of daily life by being your constant companion. Those who chose to own dogs have the advantage of getting regular exercise and there is no greater feeling than exploring the great outdoors with a four-legged companion at your feet and fresh air in your lungs.

Growing up with pets improves children’s social skills and encourages childhood responsibility. The RSPCA believes that when done right pets can also encourage us to develop lifelong compassion, understanding and respect for living things. This Autumn, the RSPCA is supporting this idea by launching a new programme called GenerationKind to help encourage young people respect animals and the environment by inviting them into our rescue centres.

The scale of the RSPCA’s work

The RSPCA last year collected 114,584 animals (including 7,669 dogs and 25,871 cats) who had the seen the worst side of humanity by being subjected to cruelty and neglect. This is heart-breaking as pets give us so much – they deserve our care and respect.

The reasons behind these animals’ treatment may never be fully understood, although the RSPCA believes that the P in our name – for Prevention – is the key to reducing these numbers.

However, the positive side to these shocking statistics is that that last year our animal centres and branches found new homes for 8,893 dogs; 26,369 cats; 3,165 rabbits and 257 equines. We also rehome small furry animals including degus, guinea pigs and hamsters, plus birds and even exotic animals to the right home.

Why you should adopt a rescue animal

Dr Jane Tyson, companion animal expert at the RSPCA, said: “We would always urge anyone thinking of getting a pet to rescue an animal. That way you are saving two animals’ lives – as you are giving one animal a new home and a second animal a space in a rescue centre.

“Those of us who own animals know how amazing it is to come home to a pet at the end of a long day, but it is important to remember it is a privilege to look after an animal and it is a huge responsibility to make sure the relationship is successful.”

There are many advantages of adopting a rescue animal rather than buying one. For example, dogs will be microchipped, neutered and vaccinated as well as having up-to-date flea and worming treatment. This is all included in a one-off adoption fee of between £100-£200.

You also receive support from our adoption support volunteers, who will come and see how you are getting on and provide any advice or answer questions if needed.

How to adopt a rescue animal for your family

If you do decide to adopt from the RSPCA, you will fill out an online form then have a home visit to make sure you and your pet are compatible. To see all the amazing animals who are in RSPCA care and looking a second chance at happiness, please visit the Find a Pet pages.

However, if you do decide to go ahead and buy an animal – particularly a puppy – the RSPCA has developed a puppy contract to help ensure you are buying from a reputable breeder. 

Whatever your chosen pet, from the tiniest mice to the tallest horses, you’ll want to keep them happy and healthy all year round.

That’s why we’ve got it covered. Our general pet care pages cover the long and short of it. – for example, how to reduce your pet's fear of fireworks; the importance of microchipping your pet; how neutering your pet can prevent unwanted litters; ways to banish pesky fleas and worms and the dangers of pet obesity.