If you're interested in adopting a pet, there are some serious questions that you need to ask yourself - and answer honestly. If you can't answer ALL of these questions, perhaps this isn't the right time to adopt. Sometimes the timing just isn't right to adopt a pet. Pets are a big commitment. They are expensive, time consuming, and sometimes destructive until properly trained. They can also be incredibly rewarding and can enrich your life in a way that nothing else can. One of the keys to being a happy pet owner is to make sure you have considered the situation thoroughly, and have thought about all the possibilities. Happy pet owners make happy pets, (and conversely, unhappy pet owners make unhappy and neglected pets!) so thinking it through will always pay off in the end.
Many of these questions are going come up again in your adoption application if you choose to go through a rescue shelter, and you will be expected to answer them honestly. Be prepared to complete a fairly detailed and personal adoption application process at the rescue shelter. It is the responsibility of the shelter to ensure that the pets they have rescued are going to good homes where the animal will be well treated. Its YOUR responsibility to be sure that you can handle owning a pet, and all that entails.
Remember that no matter how badly you want a pet, you are only being selfish and unfair to the animal if your situation isn't conducive to pet ownership. And you also should realize that if you are not completely honest, and you are forced to give up the pet, you will be losing an animal that you have bonded with and have grown to care about.
- Can you afford to feed your pet? It costs approximately $150 to feed a dog for a year (with the ever-rising cost of living, this rate will go up).
- What about medical care? Cats and dogs both need rabies vaccines and annual distemper shots, and they will need to be checked for parasites regularly, and dogs need to be vaccinated against parvo. Cats will need to be tested for Feline Leukemia and FIV. If an unexpected medical emergency should come up, can you afford to take care it? If not, what would you to to get the money to pay for the medical bills?
- Would you be willing to pay for obedience training for your dog if they needed it?
- If your apartment or condo requires an additional pet deposit, can you afford it? Pet deposits range in cost, but are usually over $200.
- Do you have the time to provide your pet with adequate exercise every day?
- If you do not have a fenced yard, do you have the willingness and commitment to take your pet for daily walks?
- Cats should have their litter boxes cleaned at least every two days.
- What about training? If you bring home a puppy, someone needs to be home with it to housebreak it. A puppy can be especially time consuming, and puppies can be quite destructive.
- Will you be able to spend time with your pet?
- Does your housing situation *allow* pets? You're *positive*? Do they have a size limit on the pets they allow? Your best bet is to call your landlord before making any final decisions on the animal you want to adopt.
- Do you understand that cats should ONLY be kept indoors? No "ifs", "ands", or "buts".
- If your dog is to be kept outside for any extended period of time, will you provide it with adequate shelter during bad weather?
- Are you planning to keep this pet for its entire lifetime?
- Will you have this pet altered? An enormous overpopulation of dogs and cats exists in the U.S. There are roughly three times as many pets as people, with over 10,000 cats and dogs being born every hour. This is the reason animal shelters and humane societies have to put to death thousands of animals every year. By having your pet spayed or neutered, you can help solve this problem. A neutered animal also makes a better pet and is less likely to get cancer of the reproductive organs.
- What will you do if someone in your house develops an allergy to your pet?
If there are any questions or points above that you do not feel 100% comfortable with, you may want to wait until your situation has changed so that you are comfortable with all of the issues above, or re-evaluate your choice in pet. For example, if you feel like you might not have the time to devote to training a new puppy, but you feel comfortable with all of the other questions above, you could consider adopting an adult dog, or a cat.