To promote responsible pet ownership, we’ve put together some thoughts for you and your family to consider before adopting your forever friend.



    Getting a new pet is an exciting time. Have you/Do you: ????
  • 1. Discussed this with everyone that will be involved with the animal and gotten a head nod, an OK and a hand shake.
  • 2. Decided who will be the primary caregiver. An adult must supervise any child that has agreed since kids may forget.
  • 3. Done your homework deciding on the right breed, size, age, gender, personality of an animal for your household.
  • 4. Understand that puppies/kittens pee, poop, chew, jump on, nip, scratch and need your help in learning to be mannerly and enjoyable.
  • 5. Older dogs from the shelter may not be house-trained, have bad teeth, be overweight and have underlying illnesses.
  • 6. Know what laws pertain to your pet in the county and state.
  • 7. Know what preventive and health maintenance vetting needs to be done for your pet over the years.
  • 8. Calculated the monthly/annual cost of food and health care for your pet.
  • 9. Made the commitment to love, honor and cherish your pet for its lifetime !!!!!



  • 1. Look at all available animals to see if there are any that fit your “dream” dog/cat based on your homework.
  • 2. Observe each of those animals for a period of time seeing how they interact with siblings and people, what their energy level is and what their personality is like.
  • 3. Now spend time with any of the animals that meet your “requirements”. While cuteness is a heart-catcher, it may lead to heartache in the future when the “fit” isn’t right because you overlooked the rest of the traits you wanted.
  • 4. Bring any current dogs along to see how the new member of the animal family will get along. Note: Friendly kittens and puppies should get along with other animals even if the current pet is older and doesn’t take to them immediately. Cats may take weeks to adjust to a new dog or cat in the family and need extra attention during that time.
  • 5. Bring along purchased items needed on adoption day e.g. collars, leash, carriers and have everything at home ready e.g. potty boxes, food bowls, etc.
  • 6. If the decision isn’t wholehearted by all concerned, best to think about it or look for another cat or dog in the future. Remember, this is a decision for a lifetime.


  • 1. The first few days may be the best and worst of the new relationship. Getting to know your new family member is so fun but this is also the time when some of what you find out about your new pet may mean there’s work ahead. The amount of time spent now in training your cat and dog will be worth its weight in gold in the future when you have a mannerly, enjoyable friend.
  • 2. Most animals are returned to the shelter within the first week or after about six months – the amount of time for the “honeymoon to be over”. If a true commitment was made from the start there won’t be any question about keeping the animal and working through the issues that arise. It’s just like a good marriage!
  • 3. Make sure your pet gets spayed/neutered as required by law, sees the vet to receive the proper health maintenance care and gets started on a good diet of food and love.
  • 4. Give your pet plenty of time to settle in, get accustomed to you and the rest of the family including other pets, and learn the routine. Remember, they had a prior life – good or bad – that will take time to forget.

Owner Relinquishment of Pets

Members of Happy Tails know and understand that there may come a time when you are no longer able to care for your cat or dog. We ask that you make every attempt to find a loving, forever home for your pet and to view the shelter as a last resort. The shelter generally equates to death for these animals. We can offer some tips on how you can try to re-home your pet. Please take a moment to read our tip sheet entitled 'Finding a Home for Your Pet'. If you need to relinquish your animal, please contact us to discuss the possible option of re-homing through our Community Outreach Program.

Finding a Home for Your Pet

Local Resources

  • Spay/Neuter Surgeries – Margaret B. Mitchell Spay/Neuter Clinic (276) 591-5790
  • Spay/Neuter Financial Assistance – Animal Defense League of Washington County 1-877-301-2290
  • Wildlife Emergencies – (276) 889-5515
  • Washington County Animal Control – (276) 676-6210 / (276) 669-7134
  • Emergency Vet Clinics – After Hours
  • VCA Highlands (276) 628-4115
  • Airport Emergency Vet (423) 279-0574

Go Get It – Help Happy Tails Help Fetching Apparel

Fetching Apparel

Local news anchor, Rebecca Pepin and her husband have created the Fetching Apparel line which helps homeless pets find forever homes. By purchasing a tote bag, short sleeve tee shirt or long sleeve tee shirt, you are helping the cause. Fetching Apparel will donate 40% of their profits to animal rescue organizations and spay/neuter programs. Check out the wonderful products at Fetching Apparel.

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