How to Educate a Prospective Pet Adopter

Updated: Feb 16, 2021

Prospective adopters walk into animal rescues hoping to adopt an animal in need.

It’s a noble mission.

Your animal rescue’s job is to then determine whether the prospective adopter is ready to adopt an animal in need.

Your animal rescue’s job is to help the prospective adopter determine which animals they may or may not be equipped to care for.

Although prospective adopters may have pure intentions, they might not have the skill set or time required to care for an animal in need.

That doesn’t mean that your animal rescue should shut the front door on that prospective adopter!

Many of us have been first-time pet owners at some point.

To our fellow pet owners... can you honestly say that you knew exactly what to do in every possible scenario as soon as you became a pet owner?

Probably not.

Pet ownership is like parenting in the sense that it’s more of a journey than a destination. Luckily, pet parents, just like human parents, are more than capable of learning along the way.

It’s simply your animal rescue’s job to teach them.

In this article, we’re going to cover the different forms of education your animal rescue should be providing to prospective adopters.

Here's What Your Adoption Counsellors Need to Educate Prospective Adopters On.


1. Educate Prospective Adopters on Your Animal Rescue.

Prospective adopters don’t just have to become new adopters.

Every conversation with a prospective adopter is an opportunity to also convert the prospective adopter into a:

  • Foster Parent

  • Volunteer

  • Donor

  • Community Supporter

The amazing thing about prospective adopters is that they can become adopters, foster parents, volunteers, donors and community supporters all at once!

But only if your adoption team educates them on the different ways to get involved with your animal rescue.

Prospective adopters will be happier than you think to hear about your animal rescue’s mission and how you’re working to achieve your goal.

According to a recent study cited by Maddie’s Fund “One-third of adopters loved the idea of joining the passionate community of shelter-pet adopters; these findings were similar across all generations.”

There will be instances where your adoption team decides a prospective adopter is not necessarily ready to become an adopter.


When your adoption counsellors decline the prospective adopter's adoption application, they can still tell the prospective adopter about your animal rescue’s foster program.

Becoming a foster parent can be a great first step towards responsible pet ownership.

Plus adopters want to stay involved!


It’s your adoption team’s job to inform them of all the different ways they can help your organization achieve your mission!


2. Educate Prospective Adopters on the Importance of Responsible Pet Ownership.


Anyone can own a pet but not anyone can be a responsible pet owner.


Animal rescues need to educate community members on the importance of responsible pet ownership.


Here’s what we at Let's Save Animals consider to be responsible pet ownership:

  1. A commitment to care for your pet for his or her entire life.

  2. Acknowledging that owning a pet requires an investment of time and money.

  3. Selecting a pet that is suited to your home and lifestyle.

  4. Ensuring pets can be properly identified using both microchips and tags where the owners' contact information is up to date.

  5. Adhering to local bylaws by ensuring pets are licensed and/ or leashed in public spaces.

  6. Helping to manage the overpopulation crisis by controlling your pet(s)' reproduction through managed breeding, containment, or spay/neuter.

  7. Establishing and maintaining a good relationship with a veterinarian.

  8. Socializing and providing appropriate training for animals to facilitate their wellbeing and the wellbeing of other animals and people in the community.

  9. Only using positive reinforcement training to train animals at home.

  10. Providing enough exercise and mental stimulation for the animal based on the animal’s species, age, breed and health status.

  11. Recognizing declines in the animal’s quality of life and making decisions or consultations with veterinarians to make appropriate accommodations (i.e. pet stairs, new harnesses, diet, palliative care, hospice and euthanasia).

For more information on responsible pet ownership click here.

3. Educate Prospective Adopters on How to Care for a Specific Animal Species.


Prospective adopters need to learn how to care for the species of animal they’d like to adopt.

For example, if a prospective adopter is thinking about adopting a cat, they’ll need to learn information on litter training or how to manage scratching behaviours.

They should also know what type of diet to feed their cat and how to groom their cat.

Someone interested in adopting a rabbit may need information on how to set up a rabbit’s enclosure. They may also need information on how to care for a rabbit’s dental health.

A prospective adopter looking to adopt a dog may need to learn how to safely walk the dog. A dog owner may need information on how to introduce their dog to other dogs in their community.

When it comes to caring for a pet, there is a lot of information to be learned.


Your adoption team must teach prospective adopters how to care for the animal species’ unique needs.

Your adoption team should never be required to research or compile all of this information by themselves.

Your animal rescue needs to train your adoption team on how to care for animals.

That's the only way to make ensure that each of your adoption counsellors will provide prospective adopters with the same information.

Your animal rescue should have a humane education department set up to assist your animal rescue in providing humane education to your community.

Your humane education team should be proactive in creating training programs to educate your adoption team in each of the areas where they will be required to provide education to adopters and prospective adopters.


4. Educate the Prospective Adopter on the Specific Animal’s Medical Concerns.

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

In instances where animals have medical concerns, their prospective adopters will need to be informed of each medical concern.

Your adoption team needs to use the appropriate medical disclosures to notify the prospective adopter of each medical concern.

Medical concerns will help your adoption team educate prospective adopters on:

  • Information about the animal’s specific medical concerns

  • Information on what has been done so far to manage the medical concern

  • Information on what must be done moving forward to manage the medical concern

Your adoption team should advise prospective adopters on how to access community services to help them learn how to better manage the animal’s medical condition.

This can include information on local veterinary care providers, especially emergency veterinary care providers.

For more information on medical disclosures, you can click here.

5. Educate the Prospective Adopter on the Animal’s Behavioral Concerns.


Behavioural concerns are behaviours that require management.

Behavioural concerns come in all shapes and sizes.

In instances where animals have behavioural concerns, their prospective adopters will need to be informed of each behavioural concern.

Your adoption team needs to use the appropriate behavioural disclosures to notify the prospective adopter of each behavioural condition.

Behavioural disclosures will help your adoption team educate prospective adopters on:

  • Information about the animal’s specific behavioural concern.

  • Information on what has been done so far to manage the behavioural concern.

  • Information on what must be done moving going forward to manage the behavioural concern.

Your adoption team should advise prospective adopters on how to access community services to help them learn how to better manage the animal’s behaviour.

For more information on behavioural disclosures, you can click here.




6. Educate the prospective adopter on the post-adoption stage.

A lot of animal rescues believe that educating adopters about the post adoption stage simply involves setting realistic expectations.


Unfortunately, setting realistic expectations is not enough to help the adopter successfully navigate the post adoption stage.

Adopters need to know how to help their new pet settle into their home.