Tips for Adopting Your First Family Pet

This week on Caitie’s Classroom we’re learning all about pets! During the field trip, Caitie visited The Toronto Humane Society and learned all about the dogs, cats, rabbits, turtles, rats and hamsters that are looking for loving forever homes.

With the help of the Toronto Humane Society, we’re going to share our top tips everyone should consider before adopting a pet. Adding a new member to the family is a big step, and finding the right fit for everyone is really important.


Be sure to ask yourself about your family’s lifestyle.

  • Are you active?
  • Where do you live?
  • Do you work long hours or spend a lot of time away from home?
  • Are there any allergies to consider?
  • What age are your children? Are they ready for any responsibility?

Knowing more about your life will help you decide on the animal that is the best fit. Some
animals, such as dogs, require more attention daily. Some cats are more independent and can spend some of their days alone, as can smaller pets with automatic feeders. Welcoming a pet into your family is a big transition. To make it easier, find a pet that fits your lifestyle and they will integrate into your family with ease.


Make sure you have an understanding of how much it will cost you to bring home an animal from the shelter. This is more than just the initial adoption fees. Will your new family member fit into your monthly budget with ease? Be sure to consider:

  • Veterinary bills (both emergency and regular checkups)
  • Pet food
  • Regular supplies such as litter for cats, a cage for a hamster, or an aquarium for a turtle
  • Pet insurance is a helpful option to consider as well


What services are available to help you look after your animal.

  • Will you train your pet yourself?
  • Who will look after your pet while you’re away?
  • Do you need someone to walk or feed your pet while you’re at work or school?

All of these services are important when you’re considering bringing home an animal. Having an idea for a support system in place will help you make your adoption decisions with confidence.

Medical Conditions/Behaviours

Not every animal in the shelter is in perfect health. Unfortunately, they might have some challenges to contend with, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give them a good home!

  • What conditions would you be willing to work with or not?
  • Are there specific behaviours you are looking for or trying to avoid? For example, would you like a more active dog to play with outside? A docile older cat that is content to be quiet company?
  • Would you be willing to take on an animal with a medical condition?

Considering an animal with medical or behavioral challenges might mean incurring extra costs, but there are plenty of animals in need of good homes that have manageable medical conditions. The shelter will be able to give advice on each animals specific needs.

Lifetime Commitment

Make sure you are ready to commit to the animal for their lifetime. Pet ownership isn’t temporary, you and your family are in it it for the long haul! When you’re ready to adopt a new pet, be sure to research the species you’re interested in. Commitments will range from several years to only a few months depending on the species and age of the animal.

Be sure to speak with everyone in the family about the adoption. Explain the process of bringing a new addition home to your children, including the steps it will take to introduce them in the first days and weeks. New responsibilities will have to be taken on by everyone, not just by mom or dad.

Want to learn more about the adoption process? The Toronto Humane Society has a lot of great information on their website! If you’re not in Toronto, your local animal shelter will offer great resources to make sure that every new family member leaves their care under the best conditions.

Don’t forget to follow us on TwitterInstagram and Facebook! Share your pet photographs and stories with us on social media using the hashtag #CaitiesClassroom!

in Partnership with


It is the mission of The Toronto Humane Society to promote the humane care and protection of all animals and to prevent cruelty and suffering. Following no kill principles, the Toronto Humane Society aspires to be a best-in-class animal shelter – working in partnership with the community to find creative solutions and improve outcomes for all animals. For more information visit:

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