Adopting a new cat or dog is a big responsibility, and can be a tricky process. Here are some are some key things you should think about to make sure you find the right match and make the adoption process go smoothly for you and your new four-legged friend.
First, research breeds to determine which type of dog best suits your personality and lifestyle. Web sites such as the American Kennel Club (AKC), or your local animal shelter can often offer some personality profiles on various breeds to help in your decision.
Check online for rescue organizations in your area. Web sites like DogTime.com provide links to pet rescues and shelters in your area. Rescue organizations have fees that are often much less than buying from a breeder, but their adoption procedures will most likely be more stringent, often requiring a home visit from a rescue volunteer. After all, rescue dogs have often been abandoned or surrendered, and the rescue personnel want to make sure the dog is being placed in its forever-home.
Also, check your local dog pound or animal control shelter; usually, these are operated by your city or county. Often you can find a real diamond-in-the-rough and the fees are generally low. Your city shelter may have limited resources and need to find homes for dogs quickly so they do not have to euthanize them. Purebred dogs sometimes end up at the pound, but you’ll also find plenty of loveable mixed breeds.
You should definitely consider how much room you have in your home before you bring a dog into it. Take into account how the breed you select might interact with or tolerate your children or another pet in the house. For example, breeds such as heelers are herding dogs by nature and tend to chase creatures smaller than themselves, meaning your kids or cat could end up being corralled around the house or yard. An Irish setter, on the other hand, is a big, friendly dog that likes run, swim and play outdoors, and might be a better choice for children.
Here are some other key questions you should consider before adopting:
- 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 pining 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 pets can’t be ignored just because you’re tired or busy. They need food, water, exercise, care, and love every day of every year. Many animals end up in the shelter because their owners didn’t realize how much time it would take 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.
- 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.
- 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. You family’s experience might be better when your children are mature enough to be responsible. If you’re a student, in the military, or travel frequently as part of your work, it may be wise to wait until you settle down.
- Are your living arrangements suitable for the animal you have in mind? Your pet’s size is not the only thing 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 so you can choose an animal that fits 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.
- Most importantly, will you care for the pet until death do you part? When you adopt a pet, you are making a commitment to care for the animal for his or her lifetime.
The fact that you’re thinking of adopting from an animal shelter means you’re on the right track—it’s definitely the responsible, caring thing to do, and you are probably saving a life! For more tips and information on bringing a new pet into your home, visit our pet adoption page at petsbest.com/petadoption.