People often want to take home an animal for the night or for the weekend, just to see how it goes. There are a lot of reasons why we do not allow this.
First, it is not likely to give you a good idea of how they will do in a home. Many pets take multiple weeks in order to settle into a new home. It’s pretty likely that your new cat would hide the whole time, and your new dog would probably just be getting used to being in a new place. Some adjust really fast and make themselves at home right away, but most take time. The graphic below is for dogs, but much of the information holds true for cats as well.
We also want people to treat adoption seriously and go into it wanting to keep them forever. We understand that sometimes things don’t work out, but we hope that people go into it planning to keep the animal, rather than just taking them home for the night.
Going into a home just to come back to the shelter can lead to depression. They get excited because they think they are back in a home and out of the shelter, just to go back to the shelter. It can be very hard for animals to come into the shelter, even when they’ve been here before, and this is the same reason why we don’t allow previous owners to see animals they have surrendered: it’s too hard on the animal. Getting excited by the possibility of having a home, just to have that taken away is heartbreaking. Some animals get very depressed and just stop eating. Some don’t even want to get up to go outside or get playtime. Others, especially those who are more stressed at the shelter to begin with, can start to act out, because they are just so confused. These behavioral issues can cause them to have an even harder time getting adopted. The stress can also lead to illness, especially in cats. Upper respiratory infection is very common in shelter cats, and cats who are stressed are more likely to get it.
What if we’re worried about how they will do with our other pets?
Dogs are required to meet any other dogs they will be living with and we are willing to do introductions with other dogs they would spend a lot of time with as well.
If you have a cat, we can test the dog you are interested in with one of our cats. Of course a shelter setting is different from a home, but we can usually get a decent idea if they will be okay with a cat or not. (We still encourage adopters to be very cautious with a new dog around their cat).
If you have a dog, we can test a cat you are interested in with one of our dogs.
We also typically have a good idea of how they will do with other cats. We really get to know their personalities and how they behave when they are around or see other cats, so we generally have a good idea of if they would do okay in a home with another cat.
But what if we try our best and it just doesn’t work out?
If it doesn’t work out you are contractually obligated to bring them back to us anyway. We totally understand that sometimes things just don’t work out. Despite best efforts, sometimes it’s just not a good match, and we will not fault you for that. We just ask that our animals come back to us. Some people might think it’s a good idea to try to find them a home themselves, but they really need to come back to us, so any potential new adopters can go through the application process.