Frequently Asked Questions


How to Select a Pet

What do I need to know before I consider acquiring a pet?

Bringing a pet into your home is like gaining another family member and not a decision to be made lightly! You’ll want to ask yourself a few important questions before taking on that responsibility.

  1. Are you prepared to take the animal with you if you move? To spend the time and effort necessary to find a place to live that will accept pets?
  2. If you live in an apartment, are you sure that your lease allows you to keep a pet?
  3. Are you able and willing to make the financial commitment to provide your new pet with the medical care it needs every year? If necessary, are you able and willing to provide emergency medical care if the situation ever occurs?
  4. Have you considered that this cute, playful puppy or kitten, with the childlike features and antics, will soon turn into an adult animal with its own personality? And that it could very likely be with you for the next 15 to 20 years?
  5. Are you able and willing to spend time playing with, exercising, and loving your new family member on a daily basis?
  6. Are you aware that this new pet may chew or scratch furniture or other items in your home? Are you willing to work with it to teach it not to do these things?
  7. Are you prepared for hair on the sofa and carpet, scratch marks on floors or furniture, and for the fact that your house can no longer be kept faultlessly clean?
  8. Are you prepared to clean up fecal matter or urine, or vomited hair balls, without getting angry at the animal?
  9. Can you ensure that your new pet will not be left alone at home for more than 8 hours a day?
  10. Have the other people in your household consented to the addition of a new pet?
  11. Do you have relatives, friends, or neighbors, who will care for your pet while you are on vacation? If not, are you prepared to make suitable boarding/pet-sitting arrangements?
  12. If you have children, can they understand that a pet requires time and attention every day? Are you willing to take over total care of the pet if the children lose interest?

If you can gladly answer yes to each of these questions, you will be rewarded with many years of loving companionship from your new pet.

How do I decide on the right animal for me?

Thank you for taking the time to research this important decision! The first step is to review your lifestyle. Look over the What do I need to know before I consider acquiring a pet?. Know yourself, your needs, and your expectations. Also, think about what you can offer a pet and what it is fair for the pet to expect from you.

You might want to talk to a veterinarian, dog trainer, cat sitter, or friends who have good relationships with their pets. Learn about different breeds. Then, get to know the animals at the shelter and decide on one that fits your lifestyle.

You might have to visit more than once, and you might want to check back every few weeks to meet the new dogs and cats that have come in to the shelter since your last visit or to see if the one that tugged at your heartstrings last time is still there hoping you’ll pick him.

Most people wouldn’t dream of buying a car after just a few minutes looking at one dealership; they research several makes and models, check out magazine reviews, compare pricing, and test drive a few vehicles, yet they only drive that car for 5-6 years before trading it in for a newer model. Remember, this is a lifetime commitment– this animal will live with you for 10-20 years, so you should spend some time exploring the different choices you can make. You cannot trade in your cat or dog if a more desirable one comes along!

I’m looking for a house dog, but many of your dogs seem so big. Don’t you have any dogs that will be good for living in town as inside dogs?

Absolutely! Many large breed dogs make wonderful house dogs. In fact, we prefer to place the dogs as indoor companions. Dogs are pack animals, which means that they need regular companionship and should not live a solitary outside existence. Experience has shown that dogs kept inside are more accessible to their human family and receive more attention and socialization in most cases. In fact, behavior problems like boredom barking, can often be resolved by simply spending more time with the dog!

Don’t overlook a dog because of its size. While it is true that a large dog can not always do well in a small apartment or mobile home and those bigger pooches need longer walks than a smaller dog to get adequate exercise, many of these dogs are couch potatoes! In fact, in some cases a larger dog is actually less active than a smaller one might be.

When you look at the dogs, keep in mind that it is not fair to bring a 100 lb dog into a one-room apartment without a yard or multiple daily walks, but that same dog might do quite well in a small house with a fenced yard and one walk each morning, especially if there is not a lot of activity in your home. Plus, if the dog is a little older, it may be ready for a more sedate lifestyle and be happy to just curl up at your feet for the evening once the initial “Welcome Home” is over!

If your living situation or physical abilities do make it important to keep looking for a smaller-sized dog, check in with us frequently, because we often get calls on small dogs, but they tend to get placed quickly and sometimes don’t even have to come in to the shelter before finding a new home.

We have small children, so we probably should get a small dog, right?

Surprisingly, most often a medium to large sized dog works best in a home with small children. Small dogs are more vulnerable to being mishandled or injured by youngsters and are often quicker to protect themselves. Also, many small and toy breeds have a surprising amount of energy and can be too rambunctious around children. There are certainly some small dogs that enjoy children and would do well in a home with them, but more important than size is temperament!

Is it true that we need to get a puppy in order to be able to trust the dog around our children?

Actually, no. Many of the adult dogs in our care are quite tolerant of children and may have been raised around kids in their previous homes. In fact, when you consider an adult dog, you are looking at a mature animal whose temperament is established, so if it does well around your children at the shelter, it is not likely to change its attitude once it goes home. Of course, there is no guarantee (with a puppy or an adult) that you won’t see some personality traits or behaviors at home that weren’t apparent at the shelter but in general, an adult is more predictable.

About Our Animals

Where do you get the animals that are in your shelter?

Most of the dogs and cats in our care were found as strays and were not claimed by owners. We do also have some animals that were released to us by their owners, usually because of a lifestyle change , like marriage, divorce, relocation, or birth of a child. These changes have nothing to do with the pet’s behavior in most cases, but the animal finds itself in need of a new family and is likely to be a wonderful addition to most households.

As a potential adopter, please consider carefully before you adopt what you would do with your pet if these changes occurred in your life! See: “What do I need to know before I consider acquiring a pet?”.

Don’t all shelter dogs have behavior problems?

The most common problem we see in the dogs at the shelter is a lack of obedience training. They may need to be taught how to walk nicely on a leash or not to jump up on people. The Olmsted County area has many dog obedience programs that can help you work on these behaviors, and many owners enjoy the bonding experience of attending classes.

Because many of our dogs were found as strays, we assume that they should not be trusted off-leash and may not boundary train well. On the other hand, some of them seem house trained or keep their run very clean in our shelter. Our experience has been that most dogs find themselves homeless because of a “lifestyle change” on the part of the owner, whether it is a marriage, divorce, birth of a child, job change, or move, which has little to do with the dog’s behavior.

As a potential adopter, please consider carefully before you adopt what you would do with your pet if these changes occurred in your life! See: “What do I need to know before I consider acquiring a pet?”.

How do you determine your adoption fees?

Paws and Claws is a non-profit organization that operates on adoption fees, memberships, and donations. These funds must cover all expenses, from vet bills to lease payments, staff wages to medications.

When an animal enters our care, they receive a visit with a local veterinarian, wormer, and vaccinations against rabies and distemper. Dogs are also vaccinated against kennel cough, and cats are tested for FIV and feline leukemia. In line with our mission of overpopulation control, many animals are spayed or neutered. They are cared for by our staff and volunteers until they are adopted, whether that is two weeks or two years.

Our adoption fees do not come close to covering all of our expenses. We set our adoption fees low enough to be of significant value to our adopters, but high enough to keep our doors open and also discourage impulse adoptions. We generally charge more for “high demand” breeds or animals that have required extensive medical treatment.

I’m looking for a hunting dog, and I see that you have many sporting breeds. Do you know if any of your dogs would be good hunters?

We do not field test any of the dogs in our care. Our focus is companion dog placement, and that is what we consider when we evaluate the dogs for adoption. Keep in mind that many of our dogs come to us as strays, so they are not necessarily the best candidates for working in the field with you off-leash. Also, we often suspect that the dogs of hunting breeds that come into our care are dogs that probably failed as hunters – they have a low prey drive, are gun-shy, startle easily at loud noises, or seem to prefer a less-active lifestyle. If you will not want to keep the dog if it doesn’t hunt well with you, a rescue dog may not be the right dog for you.

Do you have any dogs that will do well on a farm?

We might. First you should consider your expectations for the dog, though. Are you looking for a dog that will work the farm as a herding dog or protector of your livestock? If so, we probably aren’t the best place for you to look for your dog. Many of our dogs are strays found in the rural parts of our county, and we are frequently told that the dog being brought to us was bothering livestock in the area where it was found. These dogs may not be successful at boundary training, working with large animals, or working without supervision.

Are you looking for a dog to protect your property? Again, we may not be able to provide you with a dog to suit that purpose. We work with the dogs in our care to encourage social behavior and discourage protective or territorial attitudes, because we want our dogs to be good citizens in the community once they are adopted.

Are you looking for a companion dog on your working farm? In that case, we may have some dogs that would be suitable. Our focus will be to ensure that the dog will have companionship from you throughout the day, an appropriate coat to be out with you during chore times, the right temperament to be around other animals and stay with you as you work the property, and some place it can be confined when unsupervised if it will be living outside.

Not every dog will be right for you, but we can try to find a good match!

Adoption Policies

My friend’s dog just died, and I really want to get her a new puppy. Can I adopt a dog as a gift for her?

Yes, and no. Because of the personal, life long relationship between owner and pet, you should let your friend make the decision to adopt for herself. She may not be as ready as you think she is to have another dog. Even if she’s told you she’s looking for a new dog, she should make the final choice on which dog is right for her. You cannot adopt a dog for her. PCHS does have gift certificates, though, so you can prepay an adoption fee for her. Then your friend can personally choose the dog she wants to adopt.

Do I have to have a fenced yard to have a dog?

No. There are many wonderful and successful dog owners who do not have a fenced yard. We do not require a fence in all situations. Keep in mind, though, that a fence makes it much easier to have a dog! The law requires that dogs be kept from roaming off your property, and your dog’s life depends on you keeping him out of the street and in your yard. If you do not have a fenced yard, you must be diligent about using a tie-out when he is outside. Careful, though — NEVER leave a dog on a tie-out without supervision, as he could tangle, choke, or get loose.

What situations would require a fence for a dog?

We expect a fenced yard for some of the dogs in our care, either because they have a history of running away, are not social with other dogs, or need the extra security fencing can provide because of breed characteristics. We would also expect someone living on a busy street or highway to have a fenced area for the dog to exercise safely. In some cases, we might look for a fenced yard if there are small children in the home, as children would have a harder time always keeping the dog on a leash, or if the potential owner is not able to provide daily walks for exercise. Certainly, if a dog was going to be kept as an outside dog or would be outside without supervision at times, we would look for a fenced area or kennel to keep that dog from becoming our next “found dog” call.

My neighbor told me you refused to adopt a cat to her because her dog was not neutered. Is this true?

No, not exactly. Paws & Claws requires that all animals adopted from us be neutered or spayed in a timely manner if it has not yet been done at the time of adoption.

A fundamental part of our mission is to prevent pet overpopulation and the huge amount of suffering it causes, and be sure that our policies do not contribute to it. If a potential adopter does not understand the importance of neutering their current mature pet, and does not have any valid reason for not doing so, they may choose an already altered pet of the opposite species.

That is, if they have unaltered cats, they can choose an altered dog, and vice versa. However, we cannot in good conscience adopt another unaltered pet of either species to them, or an altered pet of the same species.

The reason for the species stipulation is due to the nature of the animals themselves. For example, bringing an altered male cat into a home with an intact male is very likely to trigger unwanted and possibly dangerous behavior in either animal, such as fighting, spraying, etc. Likewise an altered male may be very likely to respond to an intact female in heat and display unwanted behavior such as mounting, territorial aggression, etc. despite being neutered.

These types of behaviors almost always result in the animal being returned to us as “unsatisfactory” when it is just doing what comes naturally. Animals of one species generally do not respond to the hormonal signals of another, so we may be willing to work with an adopter wanting an altered animal of the opposite species.

My cat is so beautiful – I think she’d have adorable kittens and I want my children to see the miracle of birth. Besides, it’s cruel to make her undergo surgery. Why do you insist that I have her spayed?

Sadly, Paws and Claws and all the other humane societies and animal rescue groups exist because there are far too many animals and not nearly enough good homes for them. Our most important mission is to prevent the suffering caused by this overpopulation and the best way to prevent that is to require that all companion animals be neutered or spayed. The miracle of birth is too often followed by the death of the thousands of animals abandoned every day around the country to die slowly of starvation and neglect simply because they are unwanted and no homes can be found for them.

The spay / neuter surgery is relatively painless and the recovery is quick. The real cruelty lies in irresponsibly allowing these animals to breed.

I saw a kitten at your shelter that I’ve just got to have! Why can’t I take him home right now?

PCHS is a volunteer run organization. There is not always someone available to do the adoption, and there are often questions that take time to answer, such as landlord checks that cannot necessarily be completed in the time you are at the shelter.

In addition, bringing an animal into your home is a decision that should not be made quickly. Companion animals may live up to 20 years or more, and will require a great deal of care during that entire time. This requires a financial as well as emotional commitment that may not be feasible for you at this time. There are many questions you need to consider carefully before you bring that adorable puppy or kitten home. Will I be moving in the future? What if I want to move into an apartment that doesn’t allow pets? Can I afford to pay for all the shots and veterinary care the animal will need?

Please take this time to look over our “What do I need to know before I consider acquiring a pet?” before taking this sensitive creature into your life. We have far too many animals brought to us by people who just didn’t take the time to realize that this cute puppy was going to become a large dog, that cats need someplace to exercise their claws, or that animals can get sick and require expensive veterinary care.

I’ve always let our cats outdoors – I think it’s mean to keep them inside. Why do you require that people keep them indoors?

It is almost a tradition to “put the cat out at night” and some people truly believe that all cats should be allowed outside unsupervised. This tradition however, was born in the days when most people lived in small towns or out in the country. Now, most people live in cities or near busy streets – there is much more traffic and danger to cats than there used to be. The sad fact is, the majority of cats we have are here because they were allowed to be indoor / outdoor cats! There is a great deal of evidence that indoor cats live longer, healthier lives since they are not exposed to fatal diseases (such as FIV), poisons, fighting, traffic, and vandals. A frightened (or chased) cat can easily run far outside its “home” territory and become lost. Roaming cats also kill wildlife and are much more likely to contract annoying and disease carrying parasites. There is also a city ordinance (106A.08, Subd. 2) that states that the owner of a cat “shall not permit such animal to be at large on public property or on the private property of another unless the owner of such property actually consents thereto.”

What are your thoughts about declawing a cat as a matter of routine?

We do not recommend declawing and here is why.

A cat’s claws are very important to a cat, both physically and psychologically.

Physically, the cat uses the mechanical action of extending his claws to stretch and exercise the muscles in his whole arm. He can no longer do this efficiently after the claws have been removed, although he will still try. Scratching is necessary for the cat to shed the old nail growth and polish the new growth.

Psychologically, the cat uses the scratching action to work off excess energy and cats seem to find it a comforting, relaxing action.

Also, it is important to realize that declawing a cat is NOT just a different form of manicure. It is a serious operation in which the end of each of the cats’ toes is cut off, including the bones, nerves, tendons and blood vessels, the same as cutting off the ends of your own fingers. This can be done with a scalpel or a laser, but the operation is the same. Many young cats can tolerate this procedure adequately, but older cats often have a much harder time accepting it. It is not uncommon for a cat to become withdrawn and antisocial and some have become biters afterward. People with severed limbs may suffer from “phantom pain” and other unpleasant sensations, and it’s not unreasonable to assume cats may suffer similar problems.

For this reason, we try to educate each adopter regarding the many methods available to cat guardians for preventing damage to furniture, etc. and we ask that each adopter save declawing as a last resort after all other methods have been given a fair trial.

Because any cat that has been declawed is essentially defenseless, our contract states that the adopter must agree to keep the animal strictly indoors.

We often have declawed cats brought to us at the shelter, so if you must have a declawed cat, we greatly prefer that you select one to whom this serious procedure has already been done.

We’ve always kept our dog outside. Would you approve an adoption to us?

We would certainly be happy to visit with you about the living situation you would offer an outside dog in hopes that we would have some dogs we could recommend.

We have placed outside dogs onto working farms or to situations where there is a large fenced area with another dog. If you are considering a completely outside living situation for your dog, keep in mind that dogs are pack animals and need regular companionship and socialization. Even if you are home for most of the day, if you are inside while the dog is outside, then the dog is alone and could become bored and lonely, which can lead to behavior problems. Ideally, if a dog will be kept outside, you work outside on the property full-time or have another dog for the new dog to be with.

Also, an outside dog needs appropriate shelter from bad weather and should have a fence or kennel for housing so that it cannot run loose through the neighborhood or in the countryside. Most of the dogs in our care are strays found in rural areas; it is not appropriate to expect them to boundary train or to stay on a property without supervision. We are always glad to meet people who have successfully kept outside dogs without any problems, but because our focus is re-homing formerly stray dogs to be companion animals, we do have certain guidelines to ensure the success and safety of the dog. After all, we want the dog to be your best friend and a family member!

Adoption Procedures

I saw the cutest pet on your website. Can I apply to adopt it over the phone, via email or fax? Do I still have to meet him in person?

We are so glad you are using our website to take a first look at the animals available for adoption! Please use this opportunity to look over the “What do I need to know before I consider acquiring a pet?” to make sure you fully understand what you are getting into before you adopt.

We have many wonderful dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens ready for new homes. But remember that each companion animal has a unique personality that cannot be experienced over the Internet. We ask that every potential adopter meet the animal in person before applying to adopt.

We believe in letting you and the animal you are interested in get to know each other a little before taking the step of becoming a family. That puppy or kitten will be much happier about going home with you if he’s gotten to know you a little first! Also, although we work hard to keep our website up-to-date, there may already be an application on that animal or he may even have been adopted in the last day or two — but we might have another young or adult pet at the shelter that you would also fall in love with once you meet him or her!

Okay! I’ve picked out the right pet for me. Now what do I do?

Once you’ve met with the animal and are ready to sign on for a new best friend, our staff will help you fill out a questionnaire that asks about your living situation, current and previous pets, and reasons for adopting.

If you are in a rental situation or live within a community association, you’ll need to provide the name and phone number of your landlord or association head. We’ll also ask for the name of your current and/or previous vet clinic. If some members of your household have not been to the shelter yet, you’ll be asked to bring them to interact with the animal.

Your questionnaire will be reviewed by a volunteer experienced with adoption placement. That volunteer will contact your landlord, if you have one, and may contact your veterinarian to verify information, although that is not routine unless you live in a different state or are in another region of Minnesota.

After that, the volunteer will call to visit a little with you. This is your chance to ask questions that you thought of after leaving the shelter! The volunteer may ask you some questions, too, and may have suggestions to ease the pet’s transition from the shelter to your home.

You may decide after consulting with the volunteer that this animal is not right for you or that you are not really ready to have a pet in your home. That’s okay! Also, the volunteer may not feel that the adoption is in the best interest of the animal or that there is not a good opportunity for a successful long-term placement, in which case he will deny the adoption and explain his concerns. Please remember that none of this is meant to feel invasive, and all personal information is kept private. We follow this process only to help you be successful when you bring a new lifetime family member into your home!

With so many homeless animals, why do you deny any adoptions?

We deny very few adoptions. After all, we want to see these dogs and cats in homes of their very own with families who will love them. However, we believe that getting a pet is not a right; that animals are not simple commodities – it is a serious commitment. Our primary concern is always the welfare of the animals in our community, and we feel very strongly about being sure that every animal we directly assist, be placed into a home where it can be successful for a lifetime! Spaying and neutering continue to be the best weapon in the battle against pet overpopulation, but we also see a lot of animals abandoned because the owner was not ready to work with it or make the commitment to keep the pet when it became inconvenient. It is in the community’s best interest for PCHS to place animals into homes that can keep them home, keep them safe, keep them healthy, and keep them for life!

I’ve been approved to adopt! Now what?

After you visit with our volunteer adoption counselor, we will set up an appointment to complete an adoption contract and give you copies of the animal’s health records. Ideally, we’ll be able to arrange the appointment during our office hours so that our office staff can do the paperwork with you, but we have volunteers who can try to accommodate your schedule for evening or weekend appointments if necessary. After you complete the contract and pay the adoption fee, you can bring your new pet home.

My parents have asked me to find a pet for them, and I think there’s one at your shelter that would be just perfect. Can I do the paperwork for them without making them come to your shelter?

Actually, one of the terms on our adoption contract specifies that the adopter is going to be keeping the pet themselves at their home, so you wouldn’t be able to complete the paperwork, since the animal would be living with your parents. Additionally, we prefer to let your parents and the pet you’ve identified meet and interact at our shelter before sending them home, so that your parents aren’t “strangers” to the pet, and that the pet’s personality is a good “fit”. Certainly, you may want to do some of the legwork ahead of time by visiting our shelter and interacting with the pet, but ultimately you should have your parents complete the adoption process with us.

Can I pay the adoption fee for my son?

Yes, PCHS offers gift certificates that allow you to prepay the adoption fee for another person. This way your son can still come to our shelter and select the animal he’d like to adopt on his own. Be aware, though, that an adopter must be at least 18 years old to sign the contract and that, for the animal’s sake, the adopter should be in a stable, responsible situation when adopting. If they are still in school or in the military they may not be able to commit to take care of the animal for its lifetime. In addition, you don’t want to prepay the adoption fee if your son couldn’t otherwise afford to adopt, because the expense of caring for an animal in the first year of ownership alone far outweighs the adoption fee we charge.

If I come out to your shelter and fall in love with a dog, do I have to bring it home the same day? I don’t think my house is dog-proofed yet!

Good for you for thinking about the homecoming! You are right; there are always steps to take before bringing your new best friend into your home. We do not expect you to take your dog home the same day you meet her. In fact, we rarely complete an adoption on the same day you apply. We prefer to give you a night to sleep on your decision and be sure it is comfortable for you, and we may have some follow-up questions or information we want to provide before approving your application to adopt and making arrangements to complete the adoption.

My home is all set up and I want to be able to bring my new pet home right away. Can you work with me on that?

We will do everything we can to finalize adoptions quickly — after all, there are animals waiting to come in to our shelter, and an adoption makes room for a new animal in need. We will probably not be able to do an adoption on the same day, though. Some adoptions move more quickly than others, and we are often able to set things up within 24-48 hours. One way you can help speed up the process is by being sure that everyone in the household is able to come to the shelter and interact with the animal before selecting the right companion for your home. Take advantage of the processing time by looking over the “What do I need to know before I consider acquiring a pet?”, researching cat care, or the breed of the dog you decided on or by getting ahead on some routine chores so that you will have more free time to spend with your new buddy during her first days in your home. We will try to get all the details worked out for your adoption as quickly as possible.

Bringing Your New Pet Home

What’s the best way to introduce a new cat to my current one?

Unlike dogs, cats are not pack animals and do not always appreciate new “friends”! While it is very tempting to “see what they’ll do”, a too sudden introduction can spoil the potential relationship forever and even lead to major (and expensive) injuries to both cats and people.

To ensure that your new cat fits into your current household, you must be prepared to spend a reasonable amount of time allowing them to adjust. Keep the new cat in a separate room by itself for few days, allowing the current cat(s) to sniff under the door, but not come into contact yet. A helpful trick is to rub the new cat with a towel to pick up some of its fur and then rub your other cats with this towel to accustom them to each other’s smell. After a few days, you may put the new cat in a closed carrier and allow the other cats to come up to the carrier and sniff. Giving them all treats in the presence of the new pet helps to make the introduction pleasant. If there is major hissing and spitting, it’s back to isolation for a few more days. Try introducing them again for 5 to 10 min at a time and feeding the new cat in the same room as the other pets. During this time of adjustment, be sure to pay plenty of attention to your current pets to avoid jealousy. Never leave them together unsupervised until they have been seen interacting with each other in a non-threatening way. With luck and love they may become best buddies, or may just tolerate each other, but they will provide entertainment and companionship for each other and for you.

The cat I want to adopt is quite shy. How can I make sure she doesn’t stay that way when she comes home with me?

Shy cats may have had a difficult life before you chose to love them, and they will require a lot more patience and time to learn to trust people again. You have taken the first and most important step by giving them a chance! Other steps you can take:

Before you bring the cat home:

  1. The cat should be introduced to only one room at a time. Giving her the whole house to explore at once will guarantee that you will not see her again!
  2. If the room in which you will be keeping the cat has a bed, dressers, or cabinets that the cat can get under, seal those areas off. The idea is to give the cat a place to hide that is accessible to you. If the only way you can interact with your new pet is to attempt to drag her out from under the bed, you will only convince her that you are going to hurt her, and she will try to get away from you, perhaps injuring herself or you in the process. When those areas are effectively sealed off, prepare a hiding spot by cutting an opening in the side of a medium cardboard box. Leave the top of the box open and cover it with a thick towel. Place the cat’s litter box right next to this box, and the food and water dishes nearby.

Bringing the cat home:

  1. Open the carrier right in front of the hiding box opening so the cat can see into the inviting dark interior. Allow her to move into it on her own. Once in the box, you may leave the cat alone for few moments to allow her to relax somewhat.
  2. At frequent intervals during the day, come into the room and talk softly to your new friend, telling her what a wonderful new life she will have with you. You may gently reach into the dark box and allow her to sniff your hand, but do not try to pull her out of the box or take the cover off. If you are patient and don’t move too quickly, she may poke her nose out of the box to see who this pleasant, non- threatening person is. Let her dictate how fast she wants to move. If you bring her bits of food and leave them just outside the opening, she will begin to associate your presence with good things. Gradually, you can turn back a corner of the towel a tiny bit at a time over a period of several days, putting it back if she becomes upset or fearful. This process can take a few weeks or a few months, but if you are patient and kind, you will be rewarded with a lifetime companion of great loyalty and love!

Pet Care and Problem Solving

I’m having some trouble training my dog and my friend’s cat has stopped using her litter box. We really don’t want to give up our pets, but we’re running out of patience. Where can we go to get advice about these problems?

Give Paws & Claws a call! We can help with friendly advice, and have experts “on call” in the form of helpful advice written by veterinarians, behavioral psychologists and trainers, available to you free of charge. We want to help you with any questions you have regarding your animal, whether you adopted it from us or not.

We believe that solving behavior problems early on will prevent animals from being abandoned or brought to us because the pet’s guardians have lost patience with their pet and the bond has been broken. Call us, the sooner the better!

Should cats wear collars? Can they be injured by them?

Collars can be dangerous to a cat, but they can also provide lifesaving identification should the cat become lost. To avoid the dangers, a cat’s collar MUST be either a stretchable or breakaway model. It should be fitted somewhat snugly so the cat is not able to get it hung up on its front teeth when washing.

Don’t forget to attach an ID tag with your telephone number on it. Some collars have the tag built in, but others require you to attach another type of tag to the collar.

How can I keep my cat off the kitchen counters?

Cats like to be up on “high ground” so it’s important to provide them with “OK” high places to climb and sit . That said, some places can be off limits and your cat can learn what those forbidden places are.

One easy way to discourage a cat is to place a piece of vinyl floor runner, nubbly side up, on any surface you don’t want the cat to jump up on. Leave this in place whenever you are not using the surface, especially when you are gone. After a few weeks, he will learn that jumping up there is an unpleasant experience and will avoid it. A very wet towel or tablecloth will serve the same purpose for plastic or waterproof surfaces.

It is also important not to provide temptation in the form of food left out on the counters – this will prove far too hard to resist!

My cat keeps trying to dash out the door. How can I stop him from doing this?

First of all, be sure your cat is neutered or spayed. You cannot hope to compete with the mating instinct and our shelter is already full of homeless kittens and cats! The next step is to make the door area an unpleasant place to be. For the next several days, have each person enter the house with a squirt bottle in hand and make lots of noise and stamping to frighten the cat away. A few spritzs of water each time the door opens will discourage most cats from hanging out near the door, and will at least make them pause before trying to get out, giving you enough time to catch them and close the door.

I moved my litter box to a new place and my cat is using the old spot. Help!

Cats are creatures of habit. If you decide to move the litter box, it should be done gradually, a foot or so at a time over a period of several days. This will generally prevent any problems. If you must move it suddenly, put your cat in the new box many times the first couple of days to show him where it is, and block off the old place so that he cannot get to it.

For other “litter box blues”, please call our office. We have lots of helpful literature and advice!

Relinquishing an Animal to PCHS

I can’t keep my current pet any longer. What should I do?

With so many animals already needing new homes, it is important to be sure you really can’t keep your pet. Sometimes a problem you are having is temporary and can be worked through. If there are behavior problems with your pet, there may be an underlying health problem that can be addressed by your veterinarian. Contact us, a veterinarian, trainer, or an animal behaviorist to find out what you can do to resolve the problem. If you really can not keep the pet any longer, perhaps a close friend or relative who is already familiar with the pet could provide it a new home, or if it is a temporary housing situation, you could look into boarding your pet. Be sure that if you do give your pet away that the new home will provide it with quality care!

Can I bring my pets to you?

Please see I can’t keep my current pet to make sure you really can’t keep your pet. Remember, you made a lifetime commitment when you acquired your animal! Because PCHS does not euthanize any healthy, adoptable dog or cat, we operate as a “limited admission” shelter. This means that if our shelter is full, we will not be able to immediately take an animal into our care, and we cannot take in every animal that we are called to assist. We will do everything we can to help you, though. Please call our office with information about your situation and your pets. We will put them on our waiting list and put the information in our “To Place” book, so that people looking for a new dog or cat can contact you directly. We may also be able to direct you to other rescue organizations.

I found a stray and need to bring it to your shelter. What time are you open to receive animals?

PCHS receives animals by appointment only. We will do everything we can to help with a found animal, but we can only take them as space allows. Sometimes our shelter is full, and we will have to redirect you to another facility or organization, or we may ask you to hold the animal until we have an open space. We can always help by providing food and supplies to help house the animal in your care until a space can be found for it with us or another shelter. Please call our office to file a found report and receive other assistance.

I can’t find a new home for my ferret. Can I bring it to your shelter?

PCHS is only licensed to shelter dogs and cats, so if you have a different kind of pet, we can not take it in directly, but we do have some contact information for other organizations and rescue groups that might be able to help you. Please call our office for assistance. We’ll help as much as we’re able!


With donations from generous people like you, thousands of animals have a second chance at life! Make a difference in the life of an animal by donating today. Donations are tax deductible.

Contact Information

3224 19th Street NW
Rochester, MN 55901
(507) 288-7226

Pet Viewing Hours

Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat 12:30 to 4:30 pm
Tuesday & Thursday 2 to 7 pm
Closed Sundays

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