Bringing Home an Adopted Pet

It's best to plan ahead since bringing your new furry friend home will cause enough excitement on it's own. You may want to purchase needed items in advance so that you can spend your first few days getting to know each other rather than running around from store to store. Here's a basic list of what you'll need to get your new dog or cat off to a good start:

  • Collar and leash (or carrier)
  • ID tags with your pet's name, your name, and your address and phone number
  • A week's worth of food, kitty litter, etc.
  • Pet-safe toys
  • A pet bed (or crate)

During the first few weeks, you'll want to supervise your new little buddy with diligence. The sooner you get to know his or her quirks, the better. It's especially important to watch your new pet's interactions with other pets or children in the home.

Keep in mind that this is a big change for your new pets as well. He or she may be very nervous -- new house, new rules, new people. It takes some getting used to. That means that even the back yard (which feels like home to you) may feel strange to him or her. Therefore, you may want to accompany your pet for any trips into the yard, even if it is fenced. Pet ID tags are crucial anytime, but it's especially important if a pet gets loose soon after being adopted. Unless otherwise instructed by staff at the animal shelter, you should schedule your new pet for a veterinary visit within the first week. At your first appointment, the veterinarian can check your new pet's overall health, provide any needed vaccinations, schedule your pet's spay or neuter (if not done by the shelter), offer advice on integrating your new friend into your life and much more.

Building the bond between you and your pet is your responsibility, so check with your shelter, veterinarian or community organizations for any support, training or educational programs they provide on pet ownership. With dogs, basic obedience classes and other forms of structured interaction play a big role in the human-animal bond. For both dogs and cats, the more you know about their habits, behavior and needs, the better off you will be. If you have children, include them in the bonding process (with supervision). After all, kids who learn pet care skills now will be tomorrow's great pet owner.

What is AHA?
Since 1877, the American Humane Association has been a national leader in identifying and preventing the causes of child and animal abuse and neglect. AHA provides advocacy, training, research, disaster relief and other services to support the work of thousands of dedicated animal welfare professionals. For more information about what AHA does to protect animals, visit

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