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Instant gratification causing returned pets

Do everything you can to avoid a return.
Do everything you can to avoid a return.

It cannot be denied that we live in a society that expects instant gratification. But how harmful is that attitude when adopting a pet?

This modern mindset must not be present when adding a new pet to the family. If something is not to our liking, we toss it into the garbage and go get a new one; or, we return it and ask for a brand new one. But pets are not things. They are living creatures and they must be treated as such.

In rescue, we often see pets returned after adoption for various reasons. “He didn’t like my cat” or “she fights with my dog” or “he’s too rough with my child” or “I am just not ready.” Often, these incidents could have been prevented with some careful thought before the adoption.

The number one reason a pet is returned is because an adopter did not fully consider how much time, effort, and money a pet requires. It’s a commitment that must be made only after serious consideration of the above factors. A new dog in the family means monthly flea, tick and heartworm medication, food costs, and boarding expenses. A new dog also means a reconstruction of the adopter’s schedule: they must wake up earlier to have time to take the dog for a walk, to feed the dog, to brush the dog if necessary, and so on. In addition, the importance of providing the dog with rules and structure cannot be understated. The adopter who is willing to invest in and commit to their new pet’s well being is the adopter who does not return their pet.

Another reason for return – and arguably the most important – is that the adopter does not give the pet time to adjust to a new home. Pets may enter the home and show only one facet of their personality; it could take months for the pet to fully blossom in the care of the new owner. It is vital to actively try to form a bond with the pet, but not to force their attention. Essential to note, too, is that introductions with family members and other pets must be taken slowly and made properly. It’s easy to just throw everyone together and expect harmony, but it can set your newly adopted pet up for failure. It is already overwhelming for a new pet to be in a novel situation; give him time to adjust. Practice patience and understanding. Too easily we give up because we want them to fit in now… but we must let go of that mindset of instant gratification.

A final customary reason for returns may be found with owners who expect their newly adopted pet to be as “perfect” as their deceased pet, or one they used to have as a child, or even perhaps one their neighbor or family member has. Every pet is different. It will never be the way that it was, or the way one might have seen it with another family and their pet. But this should not be a discouraging factor. A new, special bond will be formed with a new pet, if it is but given time.

For foster parents, it is crucial to be wholly honest with a potential adopter. The right person is out there, searching, and they will not care if your foster dog isn’t housebroken, or if your foster cat has a flea allergy. As foster parents, we must commit to finding the perfect forever home for our fosters, and this can only be done if we practice full disclosure with interested applicants.

Ultimately, opening your heart to a rescued pet will change your life forever. Be kind, be gentle, and put aside the instant gratification mentality, and returning an adopted pet will never be an issue.

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