So, you’ve made the decision to bring a new pet into your home. Congrats! Whether you’re adopting for companionship, introducing a 4-legged friend into a large family, or somewhere in between, adopting a pet is a wonderful way to bring unconditional love into your life.
But what happens after a few weeks of accidents on the carpet, nipping at ankles, or scrapping with other pets? Sadly, some pets end up banished to the backyard, or worse, back to the animal shelter because the pet’s would-be human parents did not determine ahead of time what pet is the best match for their lives.
The key to making any pet adoption successful is to do research beforehand so you know what you’re getting into. Here are five questions to ask yourself before you adopt.
Can you commit the time to a pet?
Cats and dogs require a lot of human interaction and exercise to stay healthy. Physical inactivity can lead to depression, weight problems, and unwanted behavior such as scratching or spraying. Also, dogs may bark or howl incessantly.
One of the first steps you should take with a new pet is a trip to the veterinarian, especially if your pet is coming from a rescue or shelter where their medical history is unknown. To check that a veterinarian is licensed, visit the Veterinary Medical Board’s website at www.vmb.ca.gov.
Can you make the financial commitment?
The adoption fee is just the beginning of a lifetime of expenses. Your pet will need a comfortable bed to sleep in, toys to play with, and grooming products. You also need to consider the cost of having your pet spayed or neutered, regular dental and medical checkups including the cost of vaccinations, and trips to the groomer for a little pet pampering.
Is the prospective pet a match for your living situation?
A large, energetic dog is a bad match for life in a small apartment, and may act out by barking or chewing. A young kitten or puppy might be a bad match for a home with rambunctious children or other animals, where the animal could be injured during rough play. You also need to consider whether or not your family will help share the burden of caring for a pet – walks, litter box cleaning, feeding and playtime – if you’re unavailable.
Pets that require daily attention are not ideal for people who travel often for work or play. This can stop spontaneous trips because you either have to take them with you and find pet-friendly lodging or board them or have family or friends take care of them while away.
Is your living arrangement stable?
Pets are creatures of habit. If you move around a lot, it will cause stress in your pet. You may not be able to find pet-friendly accommodations, or select breeds may be excluded by homeowners associations or apartment complex rules.
Can you keep your pet safe?
Pets are often denied reunification with family members because they can’t be identified. Keep a collar and tag on your pet, and microchip your pet with a national database so you can be reunited in the event your pet is lost.
It’s a lot to consider, but asking these questions before you take the pet adoption plunge will go a long way towards responsible pet ownership.