What To Expect At Pet Adoption Events

By Allegra Ringo

Headed to a pet adoption fair this weekend? Great idea! Adoption fairs are a great place to meet your potential new pet. If this is your first time at an adoption fair, here's what to expect.

What is an adoption fair?

Let's start with the basics: What exactly is a pet adoption fair? Essentially, it's an event, put on by a shelter or rescue group, that encourages a high volume of pet adoptions. This will look different for every shelter or rescue group, but typically, it involves a gathering of adoptable pets in one location, with volunteers or staff there to answer questions. Some adoption fairs (but not all) may offer discounted adoption fees.

woman touching puppy's paw through bars
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What happens at an adoption fair?

Attending an adoption fair is different than simply showing up at a rescue or shelter in that everything is more immediate. The biggest difference is that there will be tons of adoptable pets in one place, ready to go home with you!

An adoption fair might take place at the physical location or "storefront" of a shelter or rescue group, at or inside a pet supply store, or in a variety of other public places. When you walk in, you'll see adoptable pets in pens and/or being held or walked by a volunteer. You can walk around, meet the pets, and ask questions.

What happens if I decide to adopt that day?

In many cases, if you decide to adopt a pet from adoption fair, the pet will come home with you that day. Keep in mind that this is not true in all cases - some rescue groups will do a home check, in which they check your home for any potential danger to animals, before sending a pet home with you.

If you decided to adopt from an adoption fair, you'll likely be asked to fill out an adoption form, which they will (in most cases) process on the spot. Be prepared for the possibility of taking the animal home with you that day — have a plan for buying all your supplies, and know the basics of introducing a dog or cat to a new home.

If you take a pet home with you that day, be sure to ask the attending staff what kind of food your new pet has been eating. You'll want to buy that brand and keep their serving sizes consistent with what they're used to, to minimize chances of an upset stomach.

Additionally, be prepared for your new pet to be scared or confused, especially the first day, and be patient with them!

Red kitten in a cage at the shelter
credit: DmyTo/iStock/GettyImages

What will it cost?

The cost of adopting a pet, both within and outside of an adoption fair, varies widely. At some adoption fairs, fees will be lower than usual, to encourage more adoptions. At others, the price will be consistent with the usual adoption fee the rescue group charges. The fee also might be different for cats and dogs. It's always a good idea to ask about the adoption fee up front!

Who can I bring with me to an adoption fair?

Humans only, please! Bring anyone who would be involved with your potential new pet: your partner, kids, etc. If you're serious about adopting a pet, it's a great idea to have your relevant loved ones there to give input and interact with the adoptable animals. You can also bring a friend for moral support, or just for fun.

Hunting dogs in a kennel
credit: mauinow1/iStock/GettyImages

Don't bring your pets!

Though it may be tempting to see how the adoptable animals get along with your already-existing pets, your pets are not allowed at an adoption fair. (Most will have signs saying so. Bringing pets puts undue stress on all animals involved and creates potential danger for both the animals, the volunteers or staff, and you.

Now you're primed and ready to go. Go forth and adopt!

Are you interested in learning more about what you're reading? Then scroll through this article about what it means when your pet doesn't remember you. Also, like us on Facebook and join our newsletter to learn more about your pet's behavior.