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Adopter FAQ: Messaging Guardians and When to Request a Meet-Up

Once you’ve found a pet that you’re interested in on getyourpet.com, browsing their profile details page is a quick and easy way to see all of their general information at a glance. You’ll find the pet’s age, breed, size, compatibility with kids and other pets, formal training, medical history, and more in their profile. Guardians also have a chance to share a short bio about their pet, so that you can get to know their story.

But when it comes to specific questions like, “Where does Fluffy like to sleep at night?” or “Does he walk well on a leash?”, you’ll want to go right to the horse’s (or rather, dog’s or cat’s) mouth and send a message to the pet’s Guardian. This is one of the distinct advantages of adopting through Get Your Pet: the unique opportunity to ask the pet’s Guardian firsthand about any specific questions or concerns you may have.

To send a Guardian a message, just click the orange Connect button from the pet’s profile. Then, select “Send A Message” to get started. Get Your Pet’s secure messaging system is designed to keep communication between you and pet Guardians safe, fast, and to-the-point. Make a brief introduction and then get started asking more about the pet. You can ask things like, “What is Fluffy’s favorite thing to do?” “What kind of food does he eat?” “Does he have any allergies?” or any other questions you find relevant. For a full list of questions to ask Guardians, check out our Tips For Adopters page.

If you feel like you want to conduct a conversation by phone, we ask that you wait until you have made a meet-up. After you have proposed and accepted a meet-up, the system is cued to allow you to exchange off-site communication info, like email addresses or telephone numbers. If your phone conversation sours one of you on meeting up, you can always just cancel.

Do not schedule meet-ups in your messages. You can discuss when/where might be a good place to meet-up, but to officially schedule a meet-up, scroll to the top of your conversation with the pet’s Guardian and click on “Let’s Meet.” Then, follow the instructions to select a location, day and time.

If the Guardian is hesitant to meet, or doesn’t believe it would be the right fit, that’s OK – Guardians reserve the right to choose the home they feel is best suited for their pet, and Fluffy will find another home. If they accept, then you’re scheduled to meet your new friend! When the meet-up is over, don’t forget to return to getyourpet.com and Follow Up about it from your dashboard.

Tips from our team:

  • It’s recommended to exchange a few messages with the Guardian before requesting to schedule a meet-up. This is a great opportunity for you to get to know about the pet and to let the Guardian know you’re interested. It’s OK to ask a lot of questions – this shows the Guardian you’re serious about adopting and increases your chances of a successful adoption.
  • Never harass a Guardian’s delayed or non-committal response. Many Guardians are under other pressures that might have caused them to need to rehome their pet in the first place, and it may be a difficult time for them. Please be patient. Guardians may also be responding to a ton of other messages, and be unable to keep up with new inquiries. We suggest moving on to pursue other pets if this is the case. It’s always a good idea not to have your heart set on just one possiblility, especially with much sought-after pets.
  • We have a ton of tips in place for having a successful meet-up.

The Cat Crisis: Why You Should Adopt A Cat

Cats aren’t any less loving or deserving of a home than dogs, yet they’re often reduced to second-class status at the shelter. Whereas a dog will melt your heart with a friendly lick through the bars of a cage, cats in a shelter tend to be more skittish or reserved, which doesn’t help their case.

The sad fact is, cats don’t do well in shelters, for many reasons. They are very much creatures of habit. The disruption to their routine that comes with being surrendered to a shelter is deeply unsettling to them.

They’re taken from a familiar place and made to live, sleep, and eat in a small cage, cut off from socialization or the comforting sounds and smells they know and understand. They don’t know why they’re there or how long they’ll be there, just that they don’t want to be there.

As a result, they are scared and anxious. They will not be warm and inviting towards strangers, but seek safety in the corner of their cage, avoiding contact with unfamiliar people.

Even more so than with dogs, the behavior a cat exhibits at a shelter is likely not an accurate reflection of their personality in a home setting. It isn’t fair to judge them in these conditions, but we tend to do so anyway because we’re afraid to take a chance.

Adopting a cat directly from a Guardian’s home through Get Your Pet gives you a better opportunity to see what you are really getting. A better chance for the cat to present themselves as the loving creature they are. A better chance for you to save a life, and prevent a frightened animal from ever having to enter the shelter, where their chances are so diminished.

Adopting a cat is one of the most fulfilling and rewarding things you can do. Cats make excellent companions for college students, older people, and families alike. They require relatively less maintenance than dogs, require less playtime as adults, and value time spent lounging around the house or just being by your side.

Because cats tend to be more reserved than dogs, earning a cat’s love can sometimes seem even more meaningful than gaining the trust and love of a dog. Many cat owners can relate strongly to the phrase “Who rescued who?” because of the bond that they’ve experienced with their new feline friend.

Please consider helping a cat go directly from one good home to another by adopting through Get Your Pet. Start browsing here to find adoptable cats near you.

Breed Spotlight: Australian Shepherds

Australian Shepherds are a popular choice among dog owners for many reasons. They are friendly, energetic, and have beautiful, speckled markings. They’re fluffy as puppies, and grow into adorable wolf-like dogs as adults. In short, they are stunning.

Although appearance shouldn’t be the basis of the decision to adopt, many times it is. This is one of the reasons it’s common to see breeds like the Australian Shepherd up for adoption. Well-meaning people often forgo breed research and assume herding dogs will be happy living the same lifestyle as other, mellower breeds. The truth is that every breed is different. Before committing to anything, it’s important to consider the specific needs of the breed and the type of lifestyle they require.

 Lifestyle

Australian Shepherds, or Aussies, are herding dogs at heart. That means they’ve been bred to work and get great satisfaction out of doing so. Aussies need constant stimulation and plenty of exercise to stay happy and healthy. In addition to 30-60 minutes of exercise per day, Aussies greatly benefit from enrichment, such as competing in herding agility courses. For this reason, they’re not suitable for apartment life, and should have adequate space outdoors to roam and play.

Personality

Aussies are intelligent, affectionate, good-natured, and protective. They learn quickly and get along great with kids, making them an excellent family pet. Aussies must be socialized from a young age so that they learn the proper way to interact with children. It’s natural for Aussies to want to try and “herd” kids, but this behavior can easily be corrected with the proper training. Australian Shepherds are loyal to their family and enjoy the company of their people. With proper exercise and mental stimulation, they thrive in a family environment.

Doggy Careers

Because they are so intelligent and eager to learn, Australian Shepherds are great candidates for being trained as therapy dogs, Seeing Eye dogs, or even to work with law enforcement. They excel as search and rescue dogs, and can even be trained to help you with chores around the house! Aussies are extremely versatile and are eager to help wherever they can—especially if it means making you happy.

Drawbacks

Australian Shepherds are not destructive by nature, but left alone, they can develop destructive behaviors. Without a purpose or a job to keep busy with, Aussies can turn to other, less desirable behaviors to satisfy their boredom. Long, daytime hours spent alone are not ideal for this breed.

Whether or not you have a certain breed of dog or cat in mind when browsing available pets, it’s good to have an idea of what you can expect when the time comes to adopt. You should have an idea of the energy level, exercise needs, adaptability, and sensitivity of the breed to avoid any surprises down the road. For more information about the Australian Shepherd, check out this comprehensive article.

 

Is Obedience Training Right For My Dog? January is National Train Your Dog Month

In honor of National Train Your Dog Month, we thought we’d focus this blog on the topic of obedience training. Whether you’re a first-time puppy owner or considering additional training for a dog you’ve had for a while, there are a few key things to consider.

What type of training does my dog need?

Ask yourself what you hope to get out of the training. If you simply want your pup to understand and follow basic commands, then a group training class is probably just fine. Group classes are best for dogs who don’t get overly excited, aggressive, or distracted around other dogs. Group training classes can teach basic commands, general obedience, and manners. If your dog has trouble containing his excitement around new people, in a new setting, or has shown aggression around other dogs in the past, then a one-on-one session may be called for.

When is a good time to start?

While it is common to begin basic training when the dog is a puppy, it isn’t required; nor is it always possible. And an older dog can often benefit from training, as well. True, older dogs may have ingrained habits, but they also have longer attention spans than puppies, making it easier to get and keep their attention during the training process.

Whether you have a puppy in need of basic obedience training or a more mature dog that needs to un-learn a bad habit, there are trainers of all sorts that can help you.

How to find a good trainer

Because there aren’t any regulations or educational requirements for dog trainers, finding a reputable one can be a challenge. Here are some tips to help you in your search:

  • Ask around – Talk with friends and family, or strike up conversations at the dog park to see what training programs other dog owners have used. If you see a particularly well-behaved dog at the dog park, ask their owner where they were trained.
  • Do your research – Start online, and call around to various places. Ask to talk to the trainer personally. Don’t forget to read reviews, online forums, and other resources online that can give you insight into what it’s really like to work with them.
  • Ask for references or testimonials – Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, don’t be afraid to ask for references or referrals from the prospective expert. A reputable trainer should have these on hand and ready to go.
  • Ask to sit in and observe a class – You’ve scoured the internet, asked around, and done your research. Now it’s time to see the trainer at work. Ask to sit in on a class to observe the way the trainer handles dogs in a group or in a one-on-one setting. Pay special attention to see if the other clients or dogs seem happy. Be wary of a trainer who does not let you sit in on a class.

For more information on finding professional behavioral help for your pet, check out this helpful article.

Tips For Welcoming Your New Cat into Your Home

Welcoming a new cat or kitten into your heart and home can be exciting! You can make it a little bit less “exciting” if you prepare your home ahead of time and have an idea of what to expect. Here are some tips to smoothing the transition.

Environment

Coming into a new and unfamiliar place can be intimidating and even scary for a small animal. To make your cat feel more at home, provide them with multiple “safe spaces” to retreat to. It’s important that your kitty feels safe, and that they know they can get away from human interaction, if they need to. Don’t worry if they hide a lot at first—chances are, they’ll need some time to warm up to you and get to know you better. Gently coax them out or let him come to you when they are ready.

Diet

It’s completely normal for cats to lose their appetite or avoid eating altogether when they arrive at a new place. This is because they’re usually stressed or hesitant to eliminate in an unfamiliar place. It’s important that you try to encourage your cat to eat during the transition to their new home. If possible, continue using the same food he or she was eating beforehand, and then slowly transition them to the diet you prefer over the course of the next week.

Toys

One way to make your cat more comfortable in your home is to have a variety of toys for them to play with. You can find plenty of toys, tunnels, or cat beds at your local pet store, or order what you need online from Get Your Pet’s partner Pet Valu. Cats love finding new places to explore, and hunting, hiding, and playing are some of their favorite pastimes (besides cuddling!).

Litter Box

You’ll want to have the litter box set up and ready to go before your furry friend arrives. Litter box placement is extremely important in ensuring that your cat’s transition to their new home goes smoothly. Make sure the litter box is away from their food and water, yet not tucked away somewhere that’s hard for them or you to access. Here are some tips for litter box placement, mentioned in a previous blog.

Above all, make sure you spoil your new companion! You’ve just saved a life, and your cat will be forever grateful.

Breed Spotlight: Chihuahuas

Fofo
Fofo is a 6-year-old Chihuahua currently looking for a new home on getyourpet.com

A lot of people come to Get Your Pet intent on adopting a certain dog breed. It’s important to note that while dogs of certain breeds express similar physical characteristics and behavioral tendencies, not all dogs of that breed will look or act identically.

One of the most popular breeds in America is the Chihuahua. Chihuahuas are extremely popular for many reasons—they’re loyal, make great companions, have long lifespans, and are relatively easy to care for. Not to mention their undeniable cuteness.

Personality:

As anyone who has owned or been around a Chihuahua can tell you, Chihuahuas have larger-than-life personalities. Chihuahuas may be small, but they pride themselves on being just as bold, curious, and enthusiastic as any of their larger brethren. Their fun-loving nature and desire to be in your company make Chihuahuas great companions. They crave affection and will often latch onto one person to whom they become extremely loyal. This deep bond often means they don’t have much of a tolerance for being left alone.

Lifestyle:

Chihuahuas adapt easily to apartment living and require minimal grooming and exercise, making them ideal for older people or for those who don’t have a huge yard. They are usually happy riding along on daily errands, if it means they get to be close to their owner. Because of their adaptability and easy-to-care-for nature, Chihuahuas are a great choice for novice dog owners.

Training:

Chihuahuas are fairly intelligent, responding well to basic commands like “sit” and “stay.” They’re intelligent, yet sensitive, and don’t respond well to negative behavior. Chihuahuas should be trained using positive reinforcement, and may require minimal formal training to learn manners.

Drawbacks:

Chihuahuas are naturally mistrustful of new people, dogs, and other animals, making them a bit standoffish to strangers. They also tend to act like they’re bigger and more aggressive than they really are, which can be a problem when faced with a much larger dog. Chihuahuas should be socialized with other dogs and people from an early age to keep any unfriendly behavior in check.


If you enjoyed this blog, check out Mixed Breed vs. Purebred Dogs: The Myths About Mutts, a blog where we discuss what it truly means to be purebred.

Q & A: Buying From a Pet Store vs. Adopting

puppy in pet store

Let’s do a simple Q and A to look at a comparison of buying a pet from a pet store vs. adopting.

Q – Where do pet stores pets come from?

Pets that are found at your local pet store usually come from a puppy miller —someone who breeds and sells dogs, cats, and other animals for profit. These animals are often bred in harsh conditions and made to reproduce quickly. This makes for a miserable life for the adult female, forced to endure one pregnancy after another until her value is spent and she is discarded and replaced.

Q – Why is breeding “bad”?

Puppy millers who breed for profit are unconcerned with the physical or mental welfare of their breeding dogs. Many puppy millers keep the animals in small cages, where they receive little to no socialization and often develop skin conditions, infections, and other health issues. They also may become malnourished, dehydrated, and severely depressed. There are reputable breeders out there, but most do not sell their “inventory” to places like your local pet store.

Q – Why is it “bad” to buy pets from the pet store?

Buying a cat or dog from the pet store only perpetuates the cycle of breeding and contributes to the practice of animal cruelty. By declining to  buy your pet and support these puppy millers, you are taking a stand against animal cruelty and the ongoing problem of pet overpopulation.

Q – Don’t pet store pets need homes too?

Yes, they do; but while the pets at the pet store are innocent parties, and are certainly not at fault for being there, they represent a bigger issue in the animal welfare industry. Buying a pet from a store puts more profits into the pockets of breeders and gives them incentive to continue doing what they do. It’s time to break the cycle and opt to adopt.

Q – What are the benefits to adopting a pet versus buying one?

  • Save money – Organizations like getyourpet.com charge considerably less than pet stores or breeders. (For more info on Get Your Pet’s adoption fee, see What Does it Cost?)
  • Save a life – Saving a life is as easy as adopting a pet in need of a home. Whether you’re saving a pet from the shelter, or adopting one before they get there, you’re helping a lovable pet get a well-deserved second chance.
  • Stand up against animal cruelty Take a stand against animal cruelty and help end the suffering of puppy mill dogs. Adopt, don’t shop!
  • Gain a new best friend – Pets that have been rescued or adopted tend to be most grateful for a second chance at life. Take in a new best friend and get ready to receive all the love in the world right back.
  • Spread the word – Spreading the word that you’ve adopted a pet helps to spread the message and helps make rescuing or adopting more accepted as the right thing to do.

Choosing The Right Food For My Pet: What to Consider

It’s easy to be so overwhelmed by the dozens of bags, boxes, and cans in the pet food aisle that you hastily reach for the one with the lowest price sticker or the most attractive label. But as mentioned in an earlier blog, not all pet food is created equal. The fact is, there are a ton of different foods on the market, for cats and dogs of all sizes, ages, and dietary needs. It’s easier to choose the right food for your cat or dog when you know what to look for.

Quality of ingredients

You can tell a lot about a pet food just by taking a closer look at the label. Check to make sure it contains the fatty acid DHA, which is essential in developing the brain and nervous system, especially in younger pets. Also check to see that the food has been put through AAFCO trials. The Association of American Feed Control Officials is the industry’s leader in food labeling, and their strict requirements ensure your pet will be eating a complete and balanced diet.

Life stages

Even the most basic kinds of pet food come in special “puppy” or “kitten” formulas for growing dogs and cats, who have different nutritional needs than adults. These foods are specially designed to aid in bone development, and usually contain more calories, which are important for all of that crucial playtime he or she will be having!

Diet control

Because domesticated cats and dogs don’t have to hunt for their food, they often don’t get the exercise they need in order to stay healthy. Without a proper diet, it’s easy for house pets to become overweight. Overweight dogs and cats are at increased risk of diseases like arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Consult with your vet to see if a weight-loss or weight-maintenance formula is right for your pet. Always make sure to pair your pet’s diet with regular exercise to help them maintain a healthy weight.

Special health conditions

Believe it or not, there are dog and cat foods on the market for everything from hairball control, to sensitive skin to allergies and even to picky eating. Always check with your veterinarian before switching to a specialized formula. Just know that there are options out there for specific dietary needs, if necessary.

Closing thoughts

Keep in mind that these points should not be taken as medical advice. It’s important that you check with your veterinarian before making any changes to your pet’s diet or introducing a new food. If it’s necessary to adjust your pet’s diet, the transition from one diet to another should be slow and gradual.

Friendly Debate: All About Cat Declawing & What You Should Know

declawing

To declaw or not to declaw: It’s one of the most controversial discussions among cat owners, veterinarians, and animal welfare advocates. Many people believe that declawing a cat is inhumane. Is it? Let’s break down the facts.

Why do people declaw their cats?

People have their cats declawed for a few reasons. The most common is to prevent or deter undesirable behaviors like scratching people or furniture. Damage caused to couches, curtains and even wood furniture caused by  a cat’s natural desire to scratch can be frustrating and costly. Declawing may eliminate this behavior, but it very well may introduce other, less desirable behaviors related to litter box usage.

Elderly people or those with blood clotting conditions may desire to have their cat declawed to prevent their being scratched. Other people are concerned about the spread of bacteria and infection that can be carried under the cat’s nail, and believe that by removing the nails entirely, they can avoid that risk. There are also certain feline medical conditions that may necessitate an onychectomy; however, these cases are extremely rare.

What actually happens in the procedure?

The declawing procedure, or onychectomy, is an operation that involves surgically separating and removing the last bone of each toe. The wound is then stitched or glued closed, and the paws are wrapped to protect against infection. There is often a one- to two-week recovery period after the surgery for the cat to heal and adjust.

Why is it “bad”?

Performing an onychectomy is an unnatural procedure that can cause painful side effects for a cat. The amputation of the bone can cause severe pain. Declawing changes the anatomy of the cat’s feet, and may therefore hinder their ability to scratch, grab or hold onto an object as they previously could. Some countries have banned declawing altogether, citing the procedure as inhumane and unnecessary.

Alternatives to declawing

Cats have an instinctual need to scratch. Rather than discourage scratching altogether, Guardians should always provide suitable ways for a cat to exhibit normal scratching behavior without doing damage. The good news is that there are many safer, more humane alternatives to declawing that can help prevent scratch damage in the home. Alternatives to declawing include synthetic nail caps, anti-scratch tape that discourages scratching on nice furniture or other surfaces, and training to encourage him or her to use a scratch post.

Before deciding to have your cat declawed, it’s good to know all the facts and explore your options. For more information on cat declawing, check out the following helpful resources:

 

Why Pet Health Insurance Matters to Your Newly Adopted Pet and You

What is pet insurance?

Most pet owners plan for vaccines, annual checkups, and spay/neuter costs, but those aren’t the only veterinary expenses you may face throughout your pet’s life. Pet health insurance can give you financial coverage for any unexpected veterinary bills if your pet has a cough, develops a limp, or isn’t feeling well.

As your new pet adjusts to your home, you can rest assured you have the financial backing to keep your pet protected. That way, if something happens, you can focus on your new pet—not your finances.

What does it cover?

Insurance can cover a portion of your unexpected veterinary bill if your pet is sick or injured. This could be anything from broken nail to cancer and includes hospital stays, diagnostic tests, medications, supplements, surgeries, and other treatments.

This may not include exam fees, wellness care, or coverage for pre-existing conditions— anything that shows signs or symptoms before you enroll. Insurance is there for the unexpected, so it’s important to understand what you’re signing up for.

How does pet insurance work?

Using your pet’s health insurance is simple. When your pet is sick or injured, you can take them to the veterinarian and file the claim with your insurance company.  Insurance will cover a portion of your veterinary bill, sometimes 90%, and you are responsible for any non-eligible expenses, your deductible, and the remaining co-pay.

Sometimes you file a claim and wait for reimbursement. However, some veterinary hospitals have vet-direct pay, which means that the insurance provider pays the hospital directly, and you’re only left to cover the co-pay at checkout. This means that for a $1,000 veterinary treatment you could just pay $100 at the end of the visit.

With medical insurance for pets, you don’t have to worry about which veterinarians are “in network.” You can take them to any veterinary hospital or specialty center in the country.

Can I get insurance for my rescue dog or cat?

When you enroll in insurance, you’ll need to provide your pet’s species, breed, gender, and age. If you file a claim, you will need to provide details about your pet’s medical history.

When you adopt a pet from Get Your Pet, you may have the luxury of knowing their breed and age and having a full medical history from their previous guardian. If not, you can still protect your pet. These details can be difficult to pin down when you adopt an adult dog or cat, but your veterinarian can give you a good estimate of your new pet’s age and you can submit any medical history you do have.

When can I get it?

The best time to enroll your pet in insurance is as soon as possible. Young pets often have the most affordable premiums and are less likely to have pre-existing health concerns. However, that doesn’t mean your adult dog can’t benefit from coverage.

When you adopt through Get Your Pet, you receive a 30-day certificate from Trupanion. By activating this certificate, you can waive waiting periods and give your new family member coverage as soon as you bring them home.

Thank you to guest blogger, Kathryn Clappison, a member of the team at Trupanion, medical insurance for cats and dogs, for providing this information.