BEFORE YOU ADOPT
Sharing your life with a companion animal can bring incredible rewards, but only if you're willing to make the necessary commitments of time, money, responsibility, and love-for the life of the pet.
Choosing the right pet generally means identifying the type of animal who matches your lifestyle and wants. If you live alone in a small, third-floor apartment, for instance, adopting a large, active retriever-mix might not be the best choice! An animal's size, exercise requirements, friendliness, assertiveness, and compatibility with children and other pets already in the house, should all figure into your decision.
When visiting animals at the shelter, keep in mind that it is a stressful place for any animal. Quite often, a cat or dog's true colors won't show until he's away from other animals and the shelter environment. So even if you walk past a kennel with a cat or dog who isn't vying for your attention, don't count him out! He may just be a little scared or lonely. Some animals who are usually quite social may be frightened or passive while at the shelter.
Top 10 important considerations before adopting a pet
Here are some important questions for you to think about before adopting a pet: or try Just Dog Breeds for additional tips on choosing the right dog.
Why do you want a pet?
It's amazing how many people fail to ask themselves this simple question before they get a pet. Adopting a pet just because it's "the thing to do" or because the kids have been asking for a puppy, usually ends up being a big mistake! Don't forget that pets may be with you 10, 15, even 20 years.
Do you have time for a pet?
Dogs, cats, and other animal companions cannot be ignored just
because you're tired or busy. They require food, water, exercise,
care, and companionship every day of every year. Many animals
in the shelter are there because their owners didn't realize how
much time it took to care for them.
Can you afford a pet?
The costs of pet ownership can be quite high. Licenses, training classes, spaying and neutering, veterinary care, grooming, toys, food, kitty litter, and other expenses add up quickly. Plan to spend $1000 - $2000 per year for standard care of a dog, considerably more if there are medical emergencies.
Are you prepared to deal with special problems that a pet can cause?
Flea infestations, scratched-up furniture, accidents from animals who aren't yet housetrained, and unexpected medical emergencies are unfortunate but common aspects of pet ownership.
Can you have a pet where you live?
Many rental communities don't allow pets, and most of the rest have restrictions. Make sure you know what they are before you bring a companion animal home. Consider what happens when you move.
Is it a good time for you to adopt a pet?
If you have kids under six years old, for instance, you might consider waiting a few years before you adopt a companion. Pet ownership requires children who are mature enough to be responsible. If you're a student, in the military, or travel frequently as part of your work, waiting until you settle down is wise.
Are your living arrangements suitable for the animal you have in mind?
Animal size is not the only variable to think about here. For example, some small dogs such as terriers are very active-they require a great deal of exercise to be calm, and they often bark at any noise. On the other hand, some big dogs are laid back and quite content to lie on a couch all day. Before adopting a pet, do some research. That way, you'll ensure you choose an animal who will fit into your lifestyle and your living arrangements.
Do you know who will care for your pet while you're away on vacation?
You'll need either reliable friends and neighbors or money to pay for a boarding kennel or pet-sitting service.
Will you be a responsible pet owner?
Having your pet spayed or neutered, obeying community leash and licensing laws, and keeping identification tags on your pets are all part of being a responsible owner. Of course, giving your pet love, companionship, exercise, a healthy diet, and regular veterinary care are other essentials.
Finally, are you prepared to keep and care for the pet for his or her entire lifetime?
When you adopt a pet, you are making a commitment to care for the animal for his or her lifetime.
Dog or Cat?
You may have heard the saying, "You own a dog, you feed a cat." It's true that cats value their independence a bit more than their canine counterparts. They are certainly more adaptive and more self-sufficient, but if you've ever been around cats, you already know they also crave and require love and companionship just as much as dogs!
Here are some important things to consider about each:
What is the dogs breed and temperament?
Although an active, bouncy dog might catch your eye, a quieter or more reserved dog might be a better match if you don't have a particularly active lifestyle Some breeds are very energetic while others are not. Some dogs are extremely affectionate, some are more independent. It's important to find a dog who's temperament matches your needs and lifestyle.
How old is the dog?
You may want to select a younger dog or puppy as your new companion. However, young dogs usually require much more training and supervision than more mature dogs. If you lack the time or patience to housetrain your pup or to correct problems like chewing and jumping, an adult dog may be a better choice.
How good is the animal with children and/or commotion?
Learning about a dog's past through a history sheet or from an staff member can be helpful, but past information isn't always available. In general, an active dog who likes to be touched and is not sensitive to handling and noise is a dog who will probably thrive in a house full of kids and or high energy. However, some shelter animals have had past trauma that suddenly resurfaces when around to much commotion, so be sensitive to their needs.
Kitten or Cat?
As a general rule, kittens are curious, playful, and full of energy, while adult cats are more relaxed and less mischievous. Kittens also require more time to train and feed. When you're choosing a cat, keep your family in mind. Young children usually don't have the maturity to handle kittens responsibly, so a cat who's at least four months old is typically the best choice for homes with kids.
Short-haired or Long?
Cats can have long, fluffy coats or short, dense fur, and the choice between the two is chiefly a matter of preference, availability, and your willingness to devote time to regular grooming. You'll see more short-haired cats at the shelter since they're the most popular and common cats. Keep in mind that long-haired cats require frequent grooming to be mat-free, but often shed less. Felines with short coats also require brushing, though less frequently. Most cats enjoy a regular brushing and will look forward to this daily ritual with you.