Adopting a dog or cat in Chicago can make wonderful companionship for a welcome addition to a new home. Luckily in Chicago, there are many shelters from which to find a pet. We explain where to find a furry friend and some lifestyle tips in preparation for the new arrival.  


Benefits of adopting a dog or cat in Chicago

There are many benefits to adopting a dog or cat compared to purchasing a pet directly from a breeder. As well as being cheaper, and in some cases free, to adopt, you’re also doing a good deed. A common assumption is that all pets brought into a shelter must have something wrong with them. However, this is simply not true. In fact, it’s many of the reasons pets are given up have nothing to do with the pets themselves.


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The main reasons pets are given up include owners moving into housing that doesn’t allow pets, owners having personal problems or no longer being able to afford the pet. Sometimes, people end up being too busy to properly take care of their cat or dog. If your lifestyle affords room for a pet, adopting is a great way to give one of these once loved animals a new lease of life.

Living in Chicago offers lots of places for owners and pets to enjoy together. There are many dog parks to explore, featuring water features and agility courses among others. Also, if you love animals, have you considered volunteering in a local shelter? As well as canine companionship, you’ll meet like-minded people when you’re in the city.


Advice for adopting a dog or cat from a shelter

Get yourself prepared for adopting a pet with these essential tips.

Screening process

To help ensure pets are matched with responsible owners, shelters often have a screening process in place. This can include being asked to attend an interview, fill out application forms and sign a contract. They may also require a home visit and references from your vet. Screening processes benefit the pet and the potential adopter. It increases the likelihood of going home with a pet that is right for you and your family and one that fits in with your lifestyle.

First impressions

Wondering how to select and adopt the right cat or dog for you? At the shelter, you will have the opportunity to walk through kennel areas. Don’t fall in love with looks alone, you want to find the right personality and fit to make an adoption that lasts a lifetime.

Female animal shelter employee with a cat

Talk to the staff and volunteers who have behaviorally evaluated the animal. They will introduce you to the cat or dog in a separate visitors room with the privacy to interact and see how you bond. This is also a good time to bring along any other family pets, such as another dog or cat, to see if they get along.

Pet-friendly housing

It’s vital to make sure you’re living in accommodation where pets are allowed. There are many ways to pet-proof a home, but that’s no use if they aren’t welcome in the rental. Make things easier by opting for an apartment that is officially pet-friendly, like the furnished pet-friendly rentals Blueground offer in Chicago. You can stay in style with custom designed interiors that have been approved pet paws.   

Items you’ll need at home to take care of your pet include food and water bowls or collars and harnesses. Shop for each item considering the size of the animal you’re adopting. Varying on the pet, also consider a carrying case, a bed, toys, and grooming tools like a nail clipper and a brush. If you prep these items beforehand, you’ll be able to focus on helping the pet adjust and getting to know each other rather than scrambling to get bits together.

What to feed your pet

Find out what your cat or dog was eating in the shelter to ease the transition. Be aware that there are certain foods that certain animals shouldn’t have. Cats, in particular, can have a tough time changing diets. If you want to transition your pet onto a new diet, consult your veterinarian on which high-nutrition pet food is suitable for their age and size. Keep your own food tightly sealed and avoid leaving anything unpackaged on countertops which isn’t suitable for pets to eat. Accommodating a pet also means eliminating anything in your home which can be harmful. You might be surprised to know this includes some house plants that can be poisonous for cats or dogs.

Pet parenting style

It’s your responsibility as a pet owner to train a pet on how to act. Establish where your pet can and can’t go from day one. Figure out in advance if you are open to them sleeping in your room to start setting some ground rules. Have a list to hand of emergency contacts, such as a  vet, a dog walker or a professional cleaner. All of these services can save the day when you’re in a tight spot.


Best shelters in Chicago

Small black dog on a park bench in Chicago next to an a pet owner

Now you know what to expect when you adopt a dog or cat from a shelter, head on over to the most reputable pet adoption centers in the city to find your new side-kick. Always remember to ask for vital documentation such as vaccination history and date of birth. You can rest assured when you adopt from a shelter as they provide on-going expert support post-adoption.

Chicago Canine Rescue

This pet adoption service “loves the underdog”. The Chicago Canine Rescue animal adoption process takes between two to seven days to complete. It includes an application and screening requiring references from a vet and landlord. Once the paperwork is complete, a meet and greet at the shelter is arranged and approved by an adoption counselor.

Felines and Canines

Many adoptable cats and dogs are housed at the Felines and Canines shelter and profiled on their website by name, age, and breed. They also take care to include the characteristics of each animals personality and health. Their adoption fees include spay/neuter surgery, testing, age-appropriate vaccines, the first round of deworming, and a microchip.

PAWS Chicago

At PAWS Chicago, there is a real passion for helping homeless pets. They are a national model in animal sheltering, operating fostering, adoption and volunteer programs to get cats and dogs back on their paws. Their volunteers and adoption counselors are on hand to guide you through the process of finding the right pet for you. Animals are well cared for and ready to take home with age-appropriate vaccinations and a starter bag of Merrick-brand pet food.

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