Most of us know that warm, fuzzy feeling of seeing a puppy or kitten at play. Pet lovers all know that tug at our heartstrings when we visit a Humane Society or animal www.petsblog.org and see the numerous animals looking at us sadly through their cages. We also know the quiver of our lip when we look on the Internet and view the photos and read the stories of all the pets needing new homes and looking to be placed through the hundreds of pet rescue organizations. Many of us, in turn, respond by adopting a pet or two. There is little else that lifts one’s spirits than to come home from a tough day at work or school and be happily and lovingly greeted by a four-footed friend. If you are thinking of adding a pet to your home, seriously consider adopting verses buying – there are SO MANY animals in need of new, loving homes that are available through animal shelters, ASPCAs, Humane Societies, and rescue groups. Each year, nearly 5 million dogs and cats are euthanized because there are not enough homes. Be a hero – ADOPT! As you consider adopting a pet, here are seven tips to help insure you and your new pet will spend many happy years together:
1. Don’t adopt on a whim – seriously think about this important decision. Consider your lifestyle: do you travel a lot or gone to work for several hours a day? Do you have children, and if so, are they younger or older? Are you really ready for the responsibility of a pet, and if so, what type of pet best fits your family situation and lifestyle? Dogs require a great deal of exercise; cats are more independent-natured, and fish don’t shed or whimper when they’re lonely.
2. Never give a pet as a gift! Your lifestyle may be different from the person you’re thinking of gifting with a living creature and that person may not want a pet. NEVER give a puppy, kitten, dog or cat as a gift to a child and expect that child to be the pet’s caretaker – things may go along smoothly for awhile, but within a few weeks or a month you as adult parent will be the one taking care of the pet – just accept that fact and if you’re okay with it, then adopt a pet as a FAMILY.
3. Research! Various breeds of dogs, for example, have different personalities and needs; research the many breeds to help find the best fit for your family. Most shed, that’s a fact of life, so if you or a family member has allergies, you should look at the breeds that shed the least. Cats also come in a variety of breeds and personalities; maybe one suits you better than another.
4. Consider your finances. Pets require annual medical care (vaccinations) and, like people, can develop medical issues due to genetics or accidents. For example, most cats are litterbox-trained at a young age, but later in life they can develop kidney failure and may not use the box as regularly. Medication can help keep the infection at bay, but like all prescriptions, regular medication costs money. You may consider acquiring pet insurance, but that too costs money. Remember: nothing is free, not even a “free pet”!
5. Think about the future. Are planning to have a baby in the next few years? Do you think you might be moving soon? The number one reason people give for relinquishing a pet to an animal shelter is “I’m moving”. That’s a lame excuse – pets can move with you just like children. It may be a bit traumatic on them at first, but they will be fine, just like people eventually adjust to a new home and neighborhood. It is more traumatic for them to be left by their family. If you are a person who would move without your pet or who would consider giving up your pet because of having a baby, it would be best for you to wait and adopt a pet after you are more settled.
6. Meet the Newbies! If you currently have pets in your house and are thinking of adding another, make sure the animals currently living in your home have opportunity to meet the new potential four-footed member on neutral ground. It is much better all-around to know the animals won’t get along BEFORE bringing the newest member into the household. Most animal shelters provide visiting rooms to which you can bring your current pets in to meet their potential new companion. After you bring your new pet home, be prepared for some jealousy and minor fights as all the animals become accustomed to each other and their place in the household “pack”. Sometimes this can take a few weeks or even months.