Pet adoption is not advised for the holiday season

click to enlarge Pet adoption is not advised for the holiday season
(Rescue Me Marana/Submitted)
Left: Teddy is one of the dogs who has been able to find a forever home through Rescue Me Marana. Right: Nacho, a blind cat, is one of the success stories of pets adopted through Rescue Me Marana.

The decision to bring a furry friend into a home during the holidays shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Rescue Me Marana President Nancy Young Wright stressed that pets should not be given as a present.

“We don’t adopt out pets as gifts, and most groups I know don’t either… We don’t feel that’s a good idea to surprise an adult with a dog, cat, kitten or puppy,” Young Wright said.

Located in the Tucson Premium Outlets, Rescue Me Marana is a collaborative adoption center that works with rescue organizations throughout Arizona, including those in rural areas with minimal resources and adopters. They seek to provide an alterative to pet stores selling puppy-mill dogs and cats.

Instead, adopting a pet should be a family decision.

“We hope this is a lifetime commitment to the animal,” Young Wright said.

“We want to make sure the person has a connection to the animal, really loves that animal and feels like it’s the right one for them. The right one can be a lot of things, so we try really hard to match the needs of the adopter to the animal.”

The organization requires a meet-and-greet with other dogs that will be in the home.

“We introduce dogs together and try to help them to integrate. How to integrate these cats together, that is important. They aren’t fond of having new animals coming into their turf,” Young Wright said.

Young Wright encourages adopters to think about their schedules, lifestyles and activity levels when adopting, as some breeds or ages may be more appropriate for them.

She said large breed dogs shouldn’t immediately be discounted, as older large-breed dogs 5 and older often have similar energy levels as smaller dogs. Puppies especially require a lot of attention and training.

“We have a conversation with folks. We try to find out what kind of time do they have? Are they both working? Will they be out of the house for 10 to 11 hours a day? If so, adopting a puppy is going to be difficult with that type of schedule unless they are committed to having a pet sitter come in to take the puppy out to the bathroom. Even an adult dog can’t be left that long…Lots of people have help from family members, hire pet sitters or even take the animal to work with them,” Young Wright said.

Volunteers try to educate families about different breeds, so that they understand their energy levels, behavior and needs.

Young Wright said adopters should consider their apartments’ rules when getting a pet.

In general, expenses are important, too. They will likely have grooming, veterinarian, dental, food, toy, training and other costs. As they get older, their costs of care often increase.

Rescue Me Marana has a standard adoption process and application.

“They need to set aside at least an hour to think about it, to talk about it and to fill out the paperwork,” Young Wright said.

During this process, volunteers share as much as they can about the animals’ backgrounds.

The holidays can be a good time to adopt for those that are prepared and have some time off from work. This will allow them to be around as their adopted pets adjust to their new homes.

“There’s a rule called the 3-3-3 rule,” she said.

“It’s what an animal goes through in three days, when they shut down, hide and might not want to eat. Then in three weeks and then in three months. You might not get to see your true dog until longer than that. We ask people to be patient and to allow a minimal of 30 days for the animal to adjust.”

Young Wright cautioned that new owners should watch their newly adopted animals closely during the first few weeks of the adjustment period.

“It doesn’t know these people. It doesn’t know it’s their new home. The dog may door dash out the front door. The dog may jump over the fence. The dog may dig under the fence. We strongly urge people year-around to watch the dog closely for the first few weeks, go out holding the dog’s leash in the yard, don’t let it go out there alone, don’t leave it out there alone. With small dogs, we urge caution with doggie doors because of all of the predators in the area, hawks, owls, coyotes, bobcats,” Young Wright said.

Since opening in September 2021, Rescue Me Marana has adopted out more than 570 animals.

At their facility, they have eight cat condos, five small dog kennels and five large dog suites.

Pets that come to them become part of the system for different reasons, including illness of the owner or pet, the death of an owner and life changes such as divorce. Many are also rescued as strays.

The facility works with rescue organizations such as Valley Humane Society, High Desert Humane Society and Pima Paws for Life.

Young Wright said many people are looking for smaller breeds, such as Poodles or terrier mixes, which can be more difficult to find at shelters.

When potential pet owners can’t find the right fur friend at the adoption center, they referred to other rescue organizations. They can also learn more about breed-specific rescues and responsible dog breeders.

“We find that people just need a little information and a little time, and we are happy to spend that with them. We do that every day in person, on the phone and by Facebook,” Young Wright said.

There have been many positive stories that have come out of Rescue Me Marana.

A blind orange tabby cat named Nacho was adopted by a mother/daughter duo, who were looking for a cat that “needed” to be rescued, that they could spoil. The cat had been discounted by many potential adopters because of his blindness.

Another cat named Carmen was overlooked because of the stigma associated with black cats. A family had been watching her through the organization’s social media channels and decided to adopt her. She is now the “queen of her castle” and goes by the name Little Miss Chloe.

Many of the pets that come through the organization have had tough lives, but their personalities shine through and make them great pets.

Teddy was the outcast of his litter and had been ignored and possibly abused. He was taken in by Pima Paws for Life, receiving love and care, and then adopted through Rescue Me Marana. At the shelter, his personality and “striking good looks” made him a favorite amongst volunteers.

Often, the volunteers will put in extra time, walking, spending time with and starting to train dogs.

By sharing images of day trips Felix took with a volunteer to a splash pad, park and home, the facility found a family for the great dane/bulldog mix. He was hard to place because of his size and energy, but volunteers could tell he was a “very good boy” with a great deal of potential.

Often, the organization will adopt out bonded pairs, which can be more difficult to find homes for because they need to be kept together.

Alpha and Montana were a shy Shepherd mix brother/sister duo that came to the adoption center when they were puppies. Volunteers helped to social them, teach them tricks and teach them how to play for the first time. They found a loving home with a couple that was grieving the loss of their dogs due to age-related illnesses and looking for new fur friends to shower with love.

Dogs must leave the facility on a collar or a leash. If owners didn’t bring one, they are available for purchase. The organization also sells toys and treats, and profits help to support their mission.

Rescue Me Marana
6401 Marana Center Boulevard, Suite 902, Tucson
Noon to 5 p.m. Sundays to Fridays
11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays
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