Adopting a Neglected or Abused Pet

When a local animal shelter rescues an animal from an abusive or neglectful living situation, there is often a large movement from the public to get it adopted into a loving home. It is not uncommon to see shelters setting up adoption clinics in malls and pet stores, and it’s hard to pass by without stopping to pet an adorable cat or dog in need. While many people want to take these animals in and shower them with love, the new owners of a formerly abused pet must be prepared to care for their pet’s lingering, and potentially permanent, psychological damage.

Your first reaction when hearing about a case of animal neglect or cruelty may be to adopt the pet to give it the life it deserves, but reports that potential adopters must ask themselves whether they truly want a pet, or are simply acting out of sympathy. If you don’t actually want a pet, but do want the best for the abused animals, it may be best to make a donation to the animal shelter or write to legislators in support of anti-cruelty bills.

Some people are fit to be pet parents to a formerly abused animal. If you’re ready to handle the responsibility, there are health and behavioral issues that you should be on the lookout for. Whether intentionally physically harmed by its previous owner or severely neglected, your new dog or cat may suffer numerous medical problems that may require special veterinary attention. Specialty pet meds such as digestive aids or cures for respiratory medications, may be necessary to treat common ailments experienced by animals left in abusive situations. Owners should be prepared for these costs and the potential need to administer certain veterinary care themselves when needed.

Many rescue cats and dogs have been deprived of food and water for a long time, which can lead to the development of eating disorders. They may gulp down their food quickly and throw it up, or refuse to eat in front of anyone. Check with your vet to make sure there are no underlying diseases affecting your new pet’s appetite. You may need to give small portions of food over an extended period of time to help your pet eat at a normal pace.

The psychological effects of abuse are some of the worst, and can cause a dog or cat to be forever timid, so it probably will not be possible to conduct normal activities such as walks in crowded areas. Animals in abusive situations are usually deprived of proper socializing opportunities with other animals, so special care must be taken to restrain unsocialized dogs since they may run away and act in fear. Reassure your new pet that its new home is a happy and safe one by rewarding positive behavior with treats.

Ensure that you’re prepared to take the proper steps to care for a special needs pet before you find yourself in a situation where you feel overwhelmed by the responsibility. With time and patience, you’ll find that these pets can make a great addition to your household.

Jackie is a writer for 1-800-PetMeds, and loves to help and support the pet community. You can find PetMeds on Twitter or connect with PetMeds on Facebook.
Please check out the Administrator’s previous posts on taking in a formerly abused or neglected pet, too!

3 Responses to “Adopting a Neglected or Abused Pet”

  1. Weetzie's says:

    Excellent post with so many important points! And I agree, it’s so, so crucial that everyone ask themselves if they really can bring a pet into their lives before they do.

  2. Kate says:

    The psych effects are the most important part here, I believe.
    You really need to put in a lot of time and effort, be VERY patient, and read as much as possible in order to form a real profile of your animal’s unique circumstances.
    Thanks for this article. As a rescuer of ONLY abused pets, I, for years, have been trying to write a book but spend so much time with the furries that I cant seem to find the time.
    Great input though. I will check the other links you put in here.

  3. […] Smith, of the Thoughts Fur Paws blog included some great points to remember and prepare for in a blog post of hers about adopting a pet that has been abused or neglected (information like this is important and never outdated- read it!).  If you’re interested in […]

Leave a Reply