What should I know before adopting a pet?

More people are working from home since the pandemic started. Many animal shelters and humane societies are seeing an increase in pet adoptions. There are a few things that you should consider before you join the trend and adopt a furry friend.

Adopt Don’t Shop

When looking to bring a new pet home, you may want to consider adopting a pet because it’s generally less expensive to adopt a pet from an animal shelter or foster organization than to buy a pet from a pet store or breeder. In Ontario, there are many organizations that try and match cats, dogs, and other animals with families that are a good fit. Older pets and pets with special needs often stay in shelters for a long time and often have a hard time finding homes.

If you decide to buy from a breeder it’s a good idea to research and be sure you get the health and pedigree history of your new pet. If the breeder is registered with an association you can check their records. Generally, if they are a professional breeder, they will be more than happy to answer all of your questions and provide you with any document you request.

What kinds of pets can I adopt?

In Ontario, you can often find pets for adoption that will suit your family and lifestyle. You can choose from:

  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Birds
  • Fish
  • Reptiles
  • Amphibians
  • Small Mammals (hamsters, rabbits, rats etc.)
  • Invertebrates (snails, tarantula, hermit crabs etc.)

It’s a good idea to do some research about the kind of pet you are interested in and the requirements to keep them happy and healthy in your care. If a puppy or a kitten might be overwhelming as a first-time pet owner, consider adopting an older animal or a bonded pair of animals to keep themselves company when you aren’t at home.

Are there animals that I can’t own?

In Ontario, the only pet that is currently illegal to own are dogs that are classified as pit bulls. Each municipality has rules about what other types of animals can be privately owned and which ones are illegal.

Licensing & Microchipping

Municipalities offer licensing programs that help fund the shelter and animal protection programs in your area. The license number will be on a tag on your pet’s collar, which will make it easier to find and return your pet if they run away. Animal shelter staff use the license number to find your contact information and reunite you with your lost pet.

A microchip is another way to help keep your pet safe. It is a tiny data chip that is embedded under the skin on their back, which can be quickly scanned to let the shelter know who the owners are and how to contact them. Many veterinary clinics will keep records of the animals they microchip in an effort to help connect missing pets with their families.

Can I have a pet in my apartment?

Each municipality in Ontario has limits on the kinds of pets and how many you can keep in your home. In Ontario, the terms of a rental lease agreement are not allowed to have a ‘no pets’ clause unless you are renting in a condominium building that has a rule about pets.

For example, many condos now have a rule against having dogs or cats or they set limits on the size and breed of dog you can keep.

Most municipalities have limits on the number of pets you can keep in your home and the kinds of animals that can be kept as pets. You can see an example list from the City of Toronto. This helps protect both animals and residents from dangerous animals, unsanitary situations and helps discourage animal hoarding and illegal breeding (also known as “puppy mills”).

For More Information

  • Can a landlord reject me because I have a pet? -Legal information about having a pet in an apartment. From Steps to Justice.
  • Ontario SPCA and Humane Society - This is a registered charity, established in 1873. The Society and its network of communities facilitate and provide for province-wide leadership on matters relating to the prevention of cruelty to animals and the promotion of animal well-being.
  • Animal Welfare - Cruelty to any animal is not tolerated in Ontario. If you think an animal is in distress or is being abused, call 1-833-9-ANIMAL. From the Ministry of the Solicitor General.
Last updated: January 21, 2021 4006458