How to Use Pet Medical and Pet Behavioural Disclosures

Updated: Feb 16, 2021

In recent years an increasing number of animal rescues have made media headlines for adopting out sick pets.


The New York Post published an article about an animal rescue who was adopting out sick animals to the general public. The animal rescue was facing a lawsuit at the time.


The workers at the adoption centres would avoid revealing that the animals being re-homed suffered from conditions like kennel cough, canine distemper or pneumonia.


Adopters who adopted animals from the animal rescue ended up spending a lot of money on veterinary care for their new furry companions.

An investigation further revealed that the rescue was housing puppies in unsanitary conditions.

These conditions were a contributory factor to the animal's poor health.

Ultimately the new adopters felt betrayed by the organization.

It was truly heartbreaking but unfortunately, not an isolated occurrence in the field of animal rescue!

Animal rescues constantly find themselves on the news for failing to provide prospective adopters with accurate medical histories.

What are pet medical disclosures?

Medical disclosures are disclosures used to divulge information on any of the animal's known medical conditions.

Medical disclosures should at the very least include:

  • The names of any known medical conditions

  • The name of the veterinarian who made the diagnosis

  • The date of the diagnosis

  • Any treatment the animal may have received to date

  • Any treatment the animal may need to receive in the future

Who creates pet medical disclosures?

Your animal rescue can create your own template that can be used to create each of your medical disclosures.

If you'd like you can create the template alongside your veterinary care provider

Even if they're unfamiliar with medical disclosures they will at the very least know what information your animal rescue will need to know each time an animal is diagnosed with a medical condition.


Each time your veterinary care provider diagnoses an animal in your care with a medical condition they will simply fill this important information into the template you provided.

How are pet medical disclosures used?

Medical disclosures are an important part of every adoption interview, as are behavioural disclosures.

Your adoption team will use your animal rescue's medical disclosures to help them educate prospective adopters on how to care for the animal they're interested in adopting.

Your adoption team needs to make sure the adopters fully understand all of the information on these medical disclosures.

If the prospective adopters decide to adopt the animal they're interviewing for then your adoption team will need to ask them to sign each medical disclosure. This can help your animal rescue prove that you educated adopters on each animal's medical history if you're ever required to provide proof of that at a later date.

Your adoption team will need to provide a copy of each signed medical disclosure to your adopter for further reference but you'll want to keep the original copy for your records. Do not, under any circumstances, skip that last step.

Maintaining your animal rescue's records is part of limiting your animal rescue's liability.

Here's Why Your Animal Rescue Needs to Use Medical Disclosures

Animal shelters and animal rescues need to always use medical disclosures during their adoption processes.

Pet medical disclosures can protect your animal rescue from potential lawsuits.

The chances of your animal shelter or animal rescue being sued go up drastically if you even so much as accidentally fail to disclose an animal's medical condition.

Adopters tend to get very upset when they find out their pets are suffering from medical conditions they were not informed of beforehand.

That’s why it’s important to not only have each companion animal seen by a vet but to also include all vet records to prospective adopters during the adoption process.

But they get even angrier when they realize they're the ones on the hook for the veterinary costs! In these instances, lawsuits happen.


You can protect your organization from all of this hassle by using medical disclosures.

Pet medical disclosures tell adopters how to care for animals post-adoption.

Medical disclosures drastically impact the level of care an animal will receive post-adoption.

After all, an adopter can only provide treatment for medical conditions known to them.

Your animal rescue needs to make sure the adopter has all the knowledge they need to successfully care for their new pet. Part of fulfilling that duty includes using medical disclosures.

Pet medical disclosures are useful for insurance purposes.

Some adopters may be interested in applying for pet insurance.

In these instances, adopters will need to have accurate medical information on their newly adopted pet’s health.

If not, then in the event of an insurance claim, they may face difficulty with their insurance company.

Instances like this can have a very negative impact your animal rescue's reputation.

Pet medical disclosures provide useful information for veterinary providers!

Having an animal's medical history also makes it easier for the adopter to provide their vet with a detailed medical history that might come in handy later on.

Providing new adopters with this type of information throughout the adoption process will make it easier for the adopter to provide the animal with veterinary care post-adoption.

As complicated as pet medical disclosures may sound, these disclosures are quick and easy to create.

Typically, all your organization has to do is simply choose a template!

Your veterinary staff will probably be more than happy to follow your organization’s template.

You can learn to make your own pet medical disclosures.

If you're interested in learning how to create standardized medical disclosures for your animal shelter or animal rescue then you should consider taking our adoption e-course.

In this e-course, we teach animal rescue professionals like yourself how to create and explain medical disclosures.

These disclosures can then be provided to your animal rescue's veterinary provider each time an animal is diagnosed with a medical condition.

You animal rescue's veterinary team will need to fill in a separate medical disclosure each time an animal is diagnosed with a condition.

In other words, if an animal is diagnosed with 3 medical conditions then the animal will need to have 3 separate medical disclosures.

It’s important to keep in mind that pet medical disclosures alone simply are not enough.

Here's Why Your Animal Rescue Also Needs to Use Pet Behavioural Disclosures.


Each year millions of people adopt animals from animal shelters.


Many of these people will form lifelong relationships. Unfortunately, many will not.


Many factors influence whether new adopters will be successful at establishing a lifelong bond with their pets.


One of the most influential factors will be the adopter’s ability to manage the pet’s behaviours.


Your adoption team should be disclosing any behavioural concerns an animal displays to prospective adopters before finalizing any adoptions.


This is very, very important. If this disclosure does not take place than your animal rescue may end up putting innocent children at risk.


Why? Because providing this disclosure allows prospective adopters to determine whether they genuinely have the time, patience and skills to successfully manage the animal's behaviours on a full-time basis.


If your adoption team fails to disclose an animal’s behavioural concerns to an adopter, then your animal rescue is not setting that animal up for success.


What are behavioural concerns?


Behavioural concerns are behaviours that require management. Behavioural concerns come in all shapes and sizes. Not all behavioural concerns involve aggression.