Is a rescue animal the right choice for me?

Here are a few essential points to bear in mind.

  • Being fully committed to caring for a pet in the long term and fulfilling all their needs
  • Always use a reputable shelter or rehoming organisation who can give you lots of advice and support
  • Consider how an animal will fit into you and your family’s lifestyle
  • Be prepared to invest in them – pet insurance, veterinary care, food and training can all add up
  • If you already own pets, consider how they’ll react to a new arrival 
  • Patience and love are the key to helping an adopted pet settle into their new home


Being sure that pet ownership is right for you

Owning a pet can be one of life’s greatest joys, but all too often it can be a case of the heart ruling the head. A beloved pet should be a member of the family, so consideration should always be given to taking on an animal. Can you meet their needs? Are you prepared to adapt your lifestyle? If the animal is being rehomed from a rescue centre, then you really have to be sure you’re ready for those eventualities.

Recent trends suggest a high proportion of people who’ve taken on a pet have reconsidered the decision when their circumstances change. An RSPCA report into pet ownership in the aftermath of Covid lockdowns and the ongoing high cost of living found both a large year-on-year increase in abandonments and a marked reduction in adoptions.

Veterinary surgeon Anna Foreman with one of her dogs, Cleo (Image: Anna Foreman)


Compatibility is key

Anna Foreman, a veterinary surgeon based in Cambridgeshire, has seen this happen more and more often and is passionate about rehoming abandoned pets instead of buying from pet shops or breeders. 

“It’s so rewarding rehoming a pet from a rescue organisation,” says Anna. “They don’t ask to be in this situation, so you can do this amazing thing for them and give them a new start.” She has some great pointers for anyone considering adopting a pet.

“First off, be sure the animal you choose is right for you. Taking on any pet, whether you’re rehoming or buying, is a big responsibility. But also, are you right for that animal? Rescue centres are there to help and support you, so ask them lots of questions about any animal you’re interested in. They are the experts and are there to guide you through the entire adoption process. You’re hopefully making a commitment for the rest of that animal’s life, so can you truly meet their needs?”

Meeting your new pet’s needs

Anna is also keen that anyone looking to adopt a pet is ready for the affects it could have on their lifestyle. 

“When you’re rehoming any animal from a rescue centre, you must be conscious of their personality. This is especially true if you’re adopting an older dog or cat. Say you’d like a dog that you can take on long walks, or go running with, then maybe an older dog who likes to snooze the day away isn’t right for you. Again, this is where the staff at the shelter can be your best guides, as they know the animals in their care better than anyone.”

Another issue that new owners can encounter is separation anxiety, particularly if an animal has had a tough start in life. As Anna explains, “This is something that rehoming organisations are very clear on. They will advise that dogs shouldn’t be left alone for more than four hours. If you’re thinking of going for a long lunch with friends or popping into the office for half a day on a regular basis, you must take that dog into consideration. Maybe you’d be better off rehoming a cat or even something like a rabbit.”

But Anna’s still an advocate of adoption. “It can take time for rehomed animals to learn to trust again and for their personalities to properly shine. But it is so gratifying to see that animal just be themselves and have that love and trust in you. Especially with older dogs and cats, the very best owners give them the time and space to be their best too. I don’t think it’s appreciated how amazing rescue animals are, and just how much they can give back to you.”

Caring for your new companion

Once you’ve made that commitment to adopting a pet, what other things should you take into consideration? This is where rehoming and adoption centres really come into their own.

“Animal shelter staff know all their animals really well,” Anna tells us. “As well as suitability with children or other pets, they’ll be able to tell you about feeding, exercise requirements, any health issues or medication that your pet may need.”

An important part of that is making sure you’re covered for eventualities you may not have even thought of. As Anna says, “when you first get your new pet, there are all kinds of things down the line you don’t even consider. And we are seeing so many pets live longer lives due to better surgeries and medications. This is where pet insurance can make such a big difference.”

“If I had my way, every animal would be insured so that we can give them gold-standard treatment. People often don’t appreciate the cost of animal healthcare,” she continues, “and it’s heart-breaking to see owners who just can’t afford to give their animals the treatment they need. It happens all too often, yet pet insurance can help cover so many of these costs. Even when the costs of living are tight, your pet is a necessity, and their insurance should be too.”

Further help with pet adoption

Here are a few organisations that can help you find that special forever friend:

And please read our guide about why it’s important to insure your pet