Sharing your life and home with a pet can add a lot of joy and pleasure, provided you pick the right pet and are able to provide the care needed. There are several ways to find a pet: You can purchase from a breeder, adopt an animal from a shelter, or adopt a pet from a breed specific rescue group. Also, you may be able to adopt a very loving, healthy pet through your veterinarian or if you know a senior citizen whose housing situation requires them to give up their pet. Before you decide what type of animal you want, consider your lifestyle.
Animals are not toys. They are sentient beings with emotions and pain receptors. They require routine medical check ups, proper nutrition, and have breed specific needs such as lots of grooming (poodles, etc.) or exercise (most types of terriers, etc.). Ask yourself the following questions:
1. Do I make enough money to provide food and medical care for a pet? The average annual cost of feeding a cat is approximately $700 (this can vary tremendously depending on whether you feed your cat dry food or canned food and the quality of the food). The cost of caring for a dog can vary even more because the size of the dog determines the amount of food required.
Certain breeds like poodles require professional grooming which can add another $200-$700 in annual costs. Like most things, having a pet can have unexpected costs-flea treatment, nail clipping, unexpected medical expenses, pet sitting or boarding fees when you travel, pet toys, treats, and bedding. Your home and furniture are likely to experience a little more wear and tear. If you’re the kind of person who cares more about your couch than a cat, think twice.
2. Am I willing to make a long term commitment to an animal? Most dogs and cats live approximately 10-12 years, but many indoor cats can live 20-25 years, and certain breeds of dogs live 15-18 years.
No one can see the future, but if you have a condition or circumstance in your life where you cannot care for a pet for at least the next 10 years, do not purchase a pet whose life expectancy exceeds your availability. Let’s say you plan on moving to Europe in 5 years when you retire and you want to be free (i.e. no pets or responsibilities).
You can often adopt an older pet from a shelter or breed rescue site or you can volunteer time at the local animal shelter instead of adopting a pet.
3. Is my home environment stable and suitable for a pet? Just like people, pets flourish in a home that is stable. They like routine feeding times and bed times. Are you able to provide these? If you have a home with any of the following conditions please do not adopt or purchase an animal.for more details, visit http://www.barbarabruin.org/
a. Someone in the house with a violent temper.
b. You routinely travel for extended periods of time and no one else lives with you or no other person in the house wants to care for a pet. Cats can often do well in a household where you stay away one night a week, but dogs cannot be left alone for long periods of time.
c. You have very young children–wait until they are able to comprehend why they need to be nice to the animal. This varies from child to child, but once your child is 6-7 years old, it may be a good time to add a pet to your home. Just make sure you obtain the type of pet that is best suited for children.
d. You’re being evicted, foreclosure is eminent, or you are going to trail and may have possible jail time.
e. You have a mental of physical disability that requires prolonged hospital stays, or periods where it would be impossible to care for your pet.
f. You have a mental of physical disability and your disease will be aggravated by the extra burden of pet care or an allergic reaction to dander or hair.
(Many people flourish by sharing their life with a pet — just make sure someone can care for your pet and that your disease will not be adversely affected).
4. Does your apartment, condo or city allow the type of pet selected? If you rent an apartment, find out what the property management or property owner’s pet policies are before you buy or adopt a pet. If you live in a condominium, you’ll need to check the pet restrictions. The condo management company or your condo association can provide this information. Lastly, check with the city to find out any breed restrictions (some cities will not allow people to house specific breeds).
If you want a pet and are willing and able to provide proper care, the next step is to consider the type of pet whose needs and nature will mesh well with your lifestyle. There are many books and websites with breed specific information. Sadly, the United States kills 4-10 million companion animals each year. This figure will drop substantially, as people consider the requirements of pet care and breed specific needs before they purchase or adopt an animal.