What to Know Before Adopting a Second- or Third-Chance Animal

If you’re considering adopting a second- or third-chance animal, you have the opportunity to give an abused, forgotten, or abandoned animal the chance of living the good life. Many second- and third-chance dogs and cats haven’t had a true first chance due to circumstances out of their control. By adopting a second- or third-chance animal, you’ll be voting against puppy and kitty mills with your dollar, giving a shelter or foster home another space for another second- or third-chance animal, and forever changing a life.

Before you adopt a second- or third-chance cat or dog, it’s important to understand where second- and third-chance animals come from and what makes a good fit.

Where do Second- and Third-Chance Animals Come From?

Before adopting a specific animal, it’s important to know as much as possible about their background in order to help them adjust to their new life. After all, we want to give these deserving animals their forever home. Here are some common places that second- and third-chance animals come from:

Animal Control Shelters

Many dogs and cats are saved from municipal impound facilities, more commonly known as ‘animal control’ or the ‘city pound.’ When stray cats and dogs are handed over to or picked up by animal control, the animal must remain there for a short period of time to give the owner a chance to find and retrieve their animal. For most states, shelters must hold animals for three to five days. After that, it’s possible for these abandoned animals to be adopted, euthanized, or even sold for research.

Animal Breeding Mills

Large scale breeding facilities, also known as ‘puppy mills’ or ‘kitty mills,’ often produce second- and third-chance cats and dogs. Because breeding facilities are run as for-profit businesses and do not have the animals’ best interests at heart, dogs and cats are sometimes seized for neglect. Other times, the breeding facilities are forced to downsize if they are unable to sell the animals they bred, resulting in many homeless cats and dogs.

Deceased Owners

When a pet’s owner passes, the animal will likely go to a municipal facility or other shelter if prior arrangements are not made with friends or family of the deceased. It’s not uncommon for dogs and cats in these situations to be in mourning over the loss of their human companion.

Abandoned Animals

Cats and dogs are sometimes found abandoned in homes or on the street. Other times, people under financial or other hardship are unable to keep their pets. Animal control shelters or other shelters are the most common next step for abandoned pets.

Finding a Forever Home for a Second- or Third-Chance Animal

For non-euthanizing shelters who provide a place for second- and third-chance cats and dogs, it’s important that these animals be adopted into a new, forever home. To ensure the dog or cat is a good fit, aspiring second- and third-chance pet adopters should be both open-minded and realistic.

Training Knowledge, Patience, & Consistency

Whether a second- or third-chance pet is fearful, aggressive, or displays seemingly strange behavior, it’s important to remember that, just like us, animals are not their behavior. Rather, their behavior is a product of their past and current environments. For a shift in behavior to occur, the second- or third-chance animal must be given a chance to adjust their beliefs about their environment and given a chance to learn new behavior.

For a second- or third-chance animal with behavioral issues, people must provide the training knowledge, patience and consistency that are required to help the animal adjust. If any one of these pieces is missing, the animal is not being given the chance to reshape its reality. For instance, dogs from puppy mills may have more trouble with potty training than your average dog if they were used to relieving themselves in their own kennel. Puppy mill dogs may find your seemingly beautiful and calm backyard as a large, exposed, and eerily quiet place to be, causing the dog anxiety and the inability to relieve themselves outside. However, with proper training knowledge, along with the patience and consistency necessary to follow through, you and your adopted animal companion can make progress.

For cats and dogs with more severe behavioral issues, it’s likely you’ll need to get an animal trainer or behavioral therapist to help start your relationship with your animal on the right track.

The Right Environment

Shelters and foster homes with second- and third-chance cats and dogs will want to make sure that you can provide the right environment for the animal to thrive. This means giving them what they need and helping them avoid triggers, if they have any.

Some animals may need a home with a fenced backyard or a quiet home with no children, or they may need you to be home for a majority of the day. Others might need no other animals around, or conversely, they might need another animal companion of their type to show them the ropes. The caretakers of second- and third-chance animals know what kind of environment each animal requires, and can help educate you on what’s necessary for each particular animal.

It’s important to find a second- or third-chance animal that’s a good fit with you, your lifestyle, and your environment to ensure a happy and healthy life for the animal and for you. There are many adoptable second- and third-chance animals out there waiting to find their forever home, so start making calls and sending out inquiries to learn more about if a second- or third-chance animal could be a good fit for you.

Written by Hillary Patin


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