Your Guide to Pet Adoption in Rhode Island

Animal Talk's Karen Kalunian shares her top reasons why you should adopt and not shop.

Courtesy of Karen Kalunian/Laurel Leaf Photography

We chatted with Karen Kalunian, local animal advocate behind the radio show “Animal Talk,” to learn more about the local adoption scene.

Why is it so important for people to adopt rather than shop for a pet?

Adopting is the perfect option for anyone who is looking to add a companion animal to their home. There are so many animals waiting in shelters, most through no fault of their own, hoping to be adopted into loving homes. Most people don’t realize that you can find just about any (if not all) breeds of dog or cat in a shelter. Many shelters also have small animals (like rabbits, hamsters and birds) available for adoption.

What should adopters keep in mind while searching for the right match to bring home?

First and foremost, are you ready to make the commitment to give the time, love and patience to your new furry friend? Is your lifestyle conducive to a new pet?  Are you home enough to give them the care, exercise, attention and training that they need? Can you afford if any unforeseen circumstances arise — medical, training, doggie daycare, etc.? If you have young children in the home, consider how you will integrate the new family pet. Also, if you already have pets, they will need to be included in the decision-making process as you want to make sure that they, too, will be compatible.

What are some ways new adopters can best prepare themselves and their home?

It’s always nice to supply your pet with a comfortable, safe space, like a crate or bed, that can serve as a home-base while they acclimate to their new family. Also, set their bowls in a permanent spot so they know where their food and water are at all times. You might want to buy some new toys for your pets, but always supervise them so they don’t ingest anything. Good food and treats are essential to good health, so whatever brand you choose, be sure to read the ingredients and watch for any adverse reactions. A good collar that fits properly, a harness (if you choose) and a leash are also imperative. Finally, you may also want to do a walk-through of your home before bringing a new pet home and look for things on the floor like wires or anything that a new pup might chew — better to be safe than sorry!

What can new adopters usually expect during the adoption process?

Expect to fill out an application with basic information about yourself, family, living situation, other pets, etc. Some shelters/rescues may require a home visit, some may not. If you have another pet, be prepared to supply current vet records and prepare for a potential meet-and-greet between your current dog and the dog you are thinking of adopting. There is always a fee involved (with prices varying from shelter to shelter), so be sure to view adoption policies and procedures on their website. It is also important to note that some shelters will not allow you to walk through their facility, as it can be disruptive to the animals. You may also have to make an appointment before entering.

How can people help local shelters / rescues if they aren’t in the position to adopt right now?

Perhaps you can offer to foster. It really does help save lives! Donating is key to the success of many rescues, too. It doesn’t always have to be monetary: you can send food, toys, blankets, newspapers, cleaning supplies or any other items they may need. Also educate yourself! Try to learn more about animals, their care, shelter life, training and so on. Reach out to your local shelter and ask how you can help; volunteers are the backbone of animal shelters and there are so many things you can do. Maybe plan a local bake sale and donate the funds or lend the staff your social media expertise. This leads me to my next suggestion: please share as many adoptable animals as you can on your social media. All it takes is one person to see them, and it might lead to a forever home. Lastly, always care! Caring is a huge part of helping. Talk about adoption to your friends and family. Spreading the word brings awareness and that helps, too!


If you have more questions about pet adoption in Rhode Island, you can find Kalunian on Instagram @animaltalk19, or email her at 


Need more reasons to adopt? Consider the fact that Rhode Island has more than 100 active rescues, shelters and animal control offices according to the RI DEM, all of which are hosting animals in need. You can often find the rescue closest to you by Googling your town name plus ‘animal shelter,’  but additional local reputable shelters include Save One Soul Animal Rescue League, Rhode Home Rescue Inc., Potter League for Animals, Scruffy Paws Animal Rescue, Heart of RI and the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.