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Frequently Asked Questions

Our Animals

Adoption Process

Bringing Your New Pet Home

Shelter Questions

Surrendering a Pet

 

Where do the animals come from?

The animals in our care come in many different ways.

Some cats and kittens are found outdoors by people in the community. They are usually stray cats who at one time lived indoors with people but either became lost or were intentionally put outside. If the cats are friendly and social, they are trapped and brought into the shelter. After being checked by our vet, most of these cats enter foster care to ensure they are healthy and well socialized prior to becoming available for adoption. Some cats are surrendered by owners because of owner illness, financial difficulty, divorce, moving or other reasons. Some cats are surrendered by owners when the cat becomes pregnant. Small Miracles places these cats in foster care to have their kittens and then be spayed or neutered and ready for adoption.

Most dogs come to Small Miracles from kill shelters in the region. We offer to take the dogs when kill shelters no longer have space. Adopting a dog from Small Miracles really does save a life! Sometimes, dogs come to us after being surrendered by an owner or occasionally a breeder because of owner illness, financial difficulty, divorce, moving or other reasons.

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Are the animals healthy?

All adoptable animals have received a veterinary exam, spay/neuter surgery, distemper vaccine, rabies vaccine if age appropriate, preventative stool check, de-wormer and flea prevention medication. Dogs also receive a heartworm test, Lyme disease test and Bordatella vaccine. Cats also receive tests for FIV and feline leukemia.

Some treatable illnesses are common in shelters, including feline upper respiratory infection and canine kennel cough. If your pet develops any symptoms of these illnesses shortly after adoption, the shelter may be able to provide medication at no cost.

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Where are you located? When are you open for adoption?

Please visit our Locations page for directions and hours.

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How much does it cost to adopt? What does the adoption fee include?

Adoption fees are available on the How to Adopt page.

All adoptable animals have received a veterinary exam, spay/neuter surgery, distemper vaccine, rabies vaccine if age appropriate, preventative stool check, de-wormer and flea prevention medication. Dogs also receive a heartworm test, Lyme disease test and Bordatella vaccine. Cats also receive tests for FIV and feline leukemia.

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How does the adoption process work?

Please review the steps and application form on the How to Adopt page.

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How do I pick which cat or dog is right for me or my family?

Many people come to Small Miracles with a particular color, breed or age in mind. When they leave, they usually have fallen in love with a very different animal than they first imagined. Keep an open mind, and be aware that animals in the shelter may be shy or irritable due to the noises, smells and activity in the shelter environment.

When choosing a new pet, consider your lifestyle. Are you home during the day? Do you work long hours? Do you have a bustling, busy home or a quiet, relaxed atmosphere? Do you want an active pet or a lap cat or dog? How will your existing pets adapt to a new animal? Would you consider two pets to keep each other company?

The adoption counselors at the shelter are familiar with the histories and personalities of the animals in our care. Once we get to know you, we can recommend a special cat or dog that is well suited to your lifestyle and interests.

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Why do adopters have to agree not to declaw cats?

Declawing is considered an inhumane practice by many veterinarians and animal advocacy groups. It involves not just removing the claw but also amputating the bone at the first joint. Many cats develop litter box issues due to sensitivity after surgery. Some cats also develop biting aggression after having their claws removed. Read more on the Humane Society of the United States' website.

Cat scratching is a natural behavior to shed the outer sheaths of nails. We encourage adopters to provide cats with places they are allowed to scratch, such as sisal rope posts or cardboard scratching boxes. Reward your cat with treats for using these approved scratching areas. If scratching becomes a problem, you can use double-sided sticky tape to train your cat not to scratch certain areas. A product called Soft Paws is sold in pet stores and can be used to cover cats' claws. Soft Paws must be reapplied every few weeks as the cat's nails grow.

If you are having trouble with scratching behavior, talk to one of our adoption counselors for more tips.

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Why do you require cats are kept indoors only?

Domesticated cats don't belong outside, where they can be exposed to the elements, as well as disease, parasites and dangers like being hit by a car or ingesting poison. They can also easily become lost. In Howard County, it is illegal to take your pet off your property without a leash.

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Which animals wait the longest for homes?

Adult and senior pets often wait the longest for homes. These pets are a great choice because their personalities are clearly developed, and they are usually more mild mannered. Remember, kittens and puppies grow up very quickly, so they will soon be the same size as the adult cats and dogs that are hoping to find a home, too.

When it comes to color, black cats often wait the longest for homes. Superstition is likely to blame. But these cats have just as much love to give and hope you'll give them equal consideration!

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Should I adopt a young animal or an adult?

Adult and senior pets often wait the longest for homes. These pets are a great choice because their personalities are clearly developed, and they are usually more mild mannered.

It can be also be a wonderful experience to raise a kitten or pup. These animals are usually more active and require more time and attention during their first year of life than adult animals.

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Do you offer trial adoptions?

A foster-to-adopt option is available for adult cats and dogs. This is a good choice if you are concerned about how a new pet will integrate with existing pets. You fill out the same adoption application, and the animal goes home with you for two weeks. If at the end of the two weeks, you have fallen in love, you can return to the shelter to pay the adoption fee. If you still have concerns, you can discuss the issues with an adoption counselor.

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Can I bring my existing pet to the shelter to see if he/she would get along with a new pet?

We do not allow existing cats to visit the shelter to meet potential new pets. With the various noises, smells and other animals in the shelter environment, it can be difficult to predict how your cat will react. If you would like to bring your existing dog to meet a potential new dog, please wait until you have narrowed your search to one or two potential dogs to adopt. If you are concerned about your new pet getting along with existing pets, consider fostering to adopt (see question above).

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How do I adopt a pet from Petco?

If you see an animal you are interested in at Petco in Ellicott City, Columbia, or Burtonsville, please call Shelter President Moira Liskovec at 410-274-3530 to arrange to meet the animal. Adoption counselors are also on site most Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 3 p.m.

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How should I introduce my new pet to my existing pets?

Check out these tips from the Humane Society of the United States on introducing a new cat to other pets and introducing a new dog to other pets.

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What if my new pet gets sick after I bring him/her home?

All adoptable animals have received a veterinary exam, spay/neuter surgery, distemper vaccine, rabies vaccine if age appropriate, preventative stool check, de-wormer and flea prevention medication. Dogs also receive a heartworm test, Lyme disease test and Bordatella vaccine. Cats also receive tests for FIV and feline leukemia.

If your pet is having digestive issues, it may be because of changes in diet. Animals in our care are used to eating Hill's Science Diet dry food. Cats and kittens also receive Fancy Feast or Frisky's wet food. These are great choices because they are high-quality foods that are affordably priced. However, if you plan on switching to another brand, do so slowly over the course of two weeks. Slowly mix in the new brand as you reduce the amount of the old brand.

Some treatable illnesses are common in shelters, including feline upper respiratory infection and canine kennel cough. If your pet develops any symptoms of these illnesses shortly after adoption, the shelter may be able to provide medication at no cost.

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What if my new pet has behavior problems after I bring him/her home?

New pets often experience stress while adjusting to a new environment, other animals in the home and new human caretakers. Give your new pet a few weeks to acclimate to his or her surroundings. Often, stress leads to hiding or fearful behavior. Once your pet is feeling more at home, these behaviors often stop.

If your cat has eliminated outside of the litter box, it is likely that the cat does not like the litter box arrangement. We recommend a large litter box on each floor of the home, placed in a quiet and secluded area that is easy to access for the cat. Do not use plastic box liners or hooded pans. Use unscented litter. Cats tend to prefer litter that closely resembles soil or sand, so we recommend clay or clumping litter. Be sure to scoop daily, and fully clean out the box once a week.

For inappropriate scratching, we recommend having areas where you cat is permitted and encouraged to scratch, such as scratching boards, posts or towers. Reward your cat with praise and treats for scratching in those places. There are also deterrents to prevent your cat from scratching certain areas, such as sticky tape, available at pet stores. Keeping your pet's nails clipped every two weeks will also help, as cats scratch to remove outer sheaths on their nails as they grow.

The Humane Society of the United States has a wealth of training information on its website under cat tips and dog tips.

For dogs, Small Miracles recommends finding a reputable training who uses positive reinforcement training practices.

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How can I become a volunteer?

Visit our Volunteer page.

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How can I make a donation?

Visit our Ways to Donate page.

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How do I surrender a pet to Small Miracles?

When you adopt an animal, you accept your new pet into your home and make a commitment to care for your pet for its lifetime. Domesticated animals rely on their owners for shelter, food and water, veterinary care, love and attention.

Responsible pet owners may face challenges with their pets, whether there are behavior or health issues with the pet or life changes for the owner, including financial hardships, relocation, marriage, children or illness.

If undesirable behaviors are leading you to want to surrender your pet, you should first try corrective training and give your pet time to change. Time and patience are key and can allow your pet to continue living a happy life with your family.

Don't assume that you must get rid of your pet if you become pregnant, have children or move. Just because life changes for you doesn't mean that your pet should be left behind. With time, your pet can adapt to new family members and households.

If the reasons for surrendering your pet are insurmountable, call Shelter President Moira Liskovec at 410-274-3530 to determine if Small Miracles has space to accept and re-home your pet.

Please note that if you adopted your pet from Small Miracles and can no longer care for it, you are required to contact us about returning the pet. Please do not return your pet to another shelter, especially not a kill facility.

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