Adoption process

Please click the little "down arrow" on the right, to see the answer for each question. This section is under development and we will add more questions as they come up!

Frequently asked questions

What is the process to rehome an animal?

Animals available for adoption are always listed on the website, however we also keep an "adopter register" of people looking for specific animals. We suggest the first thing to do is complete an adopter form at the rehoming centre. We will then introduce you to any animals that we know will match your needs from the information you put on the form. If you are interested in going forward, we will suggest meeting the animal a couple of times. We then carry out a home visit and after this and if everything is okay, the dog or cat is able to come home with you. We do not allow animals to leave our care until neutering is complete (except very young puppies). If there are any outstanding vaccinations to be done, you can bring the dog or cat back to the MSPCA on one of our fortnightly vet days, and we will complete the vaccinations free of charge.

What will the animal have had done before adoption?

All animals (including those who are rehomed via our Home to Home scheme) will be neutered, fully vaccinated (including Leukaemia for cats) and wormed and deflead. Dogs and Cats will be microchipped. Dogs will have had a behavioural intervention if required, and all animals will have seen a vet at least twice during their time with us. We believe in full disclosure of all conditions and issues and you will receive copies of all records kept at the MSPCA (except any relating to the previous owner). Any aggression or health issues will be highlighted, and any ongoing health conditions will be considered for short or medium term veterinary support from the MSPCA. Because we do not house cats from different sources in the same enclosure, we do not routinely FeLV or FIV test. We only test on suspicion, or if the cat has a high-risk history (has been fighting, multi-cat household, has been mating a lot etc). We can discuss testing with you if you have an existing cat. Normally, this would be at your cost. For all adoptions we suggest a donation of around 50€ (for either a single animal or for a pair) although in reality the MSPCA spends on an average stay for a dog, over 400 Euros and for a cat over 200 Euros, not including the costs of staff time, fuel etc.

What is a home visit?

It is a very short visit to meet you at home and gives us a chance to highlight any issues which may crop up specific to the animal. We do not need to see every room and we don't care if the house is tidy or anything else as long as there is no risk to the animal. We have revised our home visit protocol during 2017, so visits can be done in evenings if needed (we never expect you to take time off work) and we try to do most visits within 2-3 days. We home visit for 100% of dog adoptions and 95% of cat adoptions. Where we don't do a visit, it will be because our meetings at the rehoming centre, along with the ability to check the home via street view and a video of your home, are considered by us to be equivalent.

Why do you not have many puppies and kittens?

Wherever possible, being the only rehoming centre in Malta with qualified and employed staff, we try and focus our attention on older and vulnerable animals in need rather than lots of kittens and puppies who are relatively easy to rehome. We do get puppies occasionally and we specialise in taking in unwell feral kittens during the summer months.

Why do you not have many animals on site?

Having lots of animals in a rehoming centre is not a sign of success, but a sign of failure. We have less animals on site than previously because we rehome more. It's also becoming increasingly well understood worldwide that smaller rehoming centres are more successful in homing because there is less disease, less behavioural issues, and the more shy and challenging animals don't get overlooked. The MSPCA works to global standards rather than local Maltese ones, and our approach to rehoming is continuing to evolve. As an example of how this had worked, in 2016 only 36 cats were rehomed by us, two-thirds of whom were kittens, out of a cat population kept on site of around 15-20 at any time and our longest staying cats had been in care for 6 years. In 2017, we reduced the number of cats on site to between 6 and 10, focussed more on older cats, but despite this our homing increased to 64, two thirds of which were adult cats. Since making our changes, the longest stay cat has been in care for only 3 months.

Why are we not allowed to walk round the kennels and cattery?

Animals that come into our care are often poorly socialised, abused or have had minimal contact with lots of people. In any event they are in scary surroundings. It's well known that having lots of strangers coming and going throughout the day results in high stress levels, especially for the dogs, and also in lots of hiding and fear behaviours in both dogs and cats. Rather than constantly stress out all the animals by interruption, we will simply introduce you only to animals which match your needs. That will be done away from the kennels in the case of dogs. We are often told that we should be more like other sanctuaries where people walk round everywhere. However we did extensive research before making these changes and also used the experience of some of our staff making similar changes elsewhere. Far from reduing the number of animals rehomed, our cat adoptions doubled and our dog adoptions have gone up by around 15%. We can't speak for other sanctuaries but very much hope that they will take the time to research, evaluate and try out new ideas to improve the welfare of the animals in their care.

We previously tried to adopt an animal from you (or other NGOs) and it was a bad experience.

We'll be honest, we hear this again and again and it is not uncommon in animal shelters everywhere. The MSPCA has a mostly new staff team since 2017 who regard their main task as finding the animals new homes. We know from our own experience and from what we have heard, that some former employees were very fixated on trying to keep their favourite animals at the MSPCA, putting their own emotional needs, rather than the animal's needs first. These people are now not employed by us and so we ask, if you had a poor experience before, please try us again. We also have a much better organised procedural and diary system so the process should run smoothly and quickly. We want to ensure animals go to homes forever, but at the same time, we don't put unnecessary obstacles in the way just for the sake of it. If during our adoption process you encounter any concerns or are unhappy with the process, please feel free to contact the center manager by emailing info@spcamalta.or (emails to this address are currently only seen by the manager).

Why do you not adopt or rehome by email / facebook

We do list all animals on facebook and our website (other than those which come in to us with a home already lined up). However, because we rehome very quickly and are also open 5 days a week, it is difficult to keep facebook and email messaging on track at the same pace as visitors or phone. Our rehoming centre staff don't have access to our facebook messaging or main email addresses. Therefore we don't want to risk people making arrangments on the basis of email or facebook when the situation has changed in real time. Additionally, we find that encouraging people to make a visit or two to us adds a reality-check and prevents impulsive decisions, and also a lot of time-wasting.

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