Published Aug 18, 2015
By Aimee Gilbreath, Special to Everyday Health
So you’ve been thinking about adding a dog or cat to your family, and have decided that you want to adopt. I know a little bit about this myself: During my seven years with Found Animals, a nonprofit dedicated to the happiness and safety of animals in the United States, I’ve fostered everything from teenage pit bulls to medically-challenged chihuahuas. If you’re wondering how you’ll know when you’re ready to welcome a four-legged addition to your home, ask yourself these questions:
1. What’s My Motivation for Adopting a Pet?
Are you looking for unconditional pet love and loyal companionship? Do you want an exercise buddy, or are you longing for an enthusiastic snuggler? If you know the answers to these questions, then you’re on the right track. Bringing an adopted pet into your home is a wonderful way to gain a best friend, stress reliever, and workout partner all rolled into one. There are even health benefits to having a pet, like lower blood pressure and reduced depression.
2. Is My Living Arrangement Stable?
The No. 1 reason pets are turned in to shelters is that the owners’ living situation changes when they move to a place where pets are not allowed. Is your rental pet-friendly for the type of pet you want? Does your lease permit it? How about your homeowner’s insurance? Especially if you’re considering adopting a large-breed dog, make sure you’re clear on the legal ramifications. Keep in mind, if your rental or homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover dogs, you can obtain dog liability insurance from a nationwide insurer.
3. Is My Place Set Up for a Pet?
Your primary responsibility as a pet guardian is to keep your pet safe. With this in mind, take a look around your house. Is it safe for a curious pet? If you’re not on the ground floor, can you keep your pet safe from falls? Is your yard fenced to keep a pet from running away or getting lost? Is access to your pool closed off? Are toxic chemicals out of reach in your kitchen and garage, including antifreeze or other fluid spills on the garage floor?
4. Am I Willing to Make the Time to Adopt a Pet?
Cats and dogs need human interaction and exercise every day to stay physically and mentally healthy. Physical inactivity can lead to pet obesity, depression, and unwanted behaviors borne out of sheer boredom. If you’re out of the house for long periods during the day, can you commit to spending quality time in the morning before you leave, and in the evening when you come home? A pet door and a fenced yard are not sufficient. Pets, unfortunately, will not take it upon themselves to go out and exercise. Besides, they will have missed you while you were out, and will crave the attention and bonding that playtime or a walk will provide.
5. Do I Have the Financial Bandwidth?
Having a pet as part of your family means providing more than the basic needs of food and shelter. Your pet will need a comfy bed; durable, safe toys to play with; and perhaps a crate, pet carrier, pet door, and grooming products — the list continues. You may also need to get your pet spayed or neutered. This is a must to avoid adding to the homeless pet problem you’re trying to alleviate by adopting. Low- and no-cost spay/neuter clinics may be an option if you qualify.
You will also need to manage your pet’s health maintenance as you would that of any other dependent. Vaccinations, wellness checkups, and dental procedures are all things you will need to invest in to keep your pet healthy and happy. Additionally, unplanned vet visits may be required periodically if your pet gets sick. You can help mitigate the cost of emergency vet visits by enrolling in pet insurance with monthly payment plans.
6. Is My Family on Board With Pet Adoption?
If you live with one or more people in your household, are they ready to be a part of the daily care of a new pet? It’s much easier, and more fun, to welcome a new pet into a household where the entire family enthusiastically supports the decision.
7. Are My Kids Old Enough to Respect a Pet?
Nothing is cuter than kids with pets, and growing up with a pet can be incredibly rewarding for a child. In order to make the experience safe and enjoyable for everyone, your child should be old enough to understand which behaviors are no-no’s when interacting with pets:
- No pulling ears and tails
- No climbing on or riding the pet
- No interfering with the pet’s food
If you have very young children at home, you might consider creating a space for your pet that is off-limits to kids. This could be a room, part of a room, or a crate — really any quiet place your pet knows he can go when he needs some alone time.
8. Do I Promise to Ensure My Pet Doesn’t End Up at a Shelter?
Lost pets are frequently denied reunification with their families simply because they can’t be identified. Shelters do the best they can to find their families, but pets who can’t be matched with owners are often euthanized due to lack of resources and space. Avoid this grim fate by always keeping a collar and tag on your pet with current, readable contact info. Also microchip and register your pet’s chip number in a national database, such as the free Found Animals microchip registry.
Aimee Gilbreath is the Executive Director of the Found Animals Foundation. Her passion for animals started when she was a child growing up in Arizona, where she counted dogs, cats, rabbits, horses, and even goats among her animal friends. She has personally vetted and placed foster pets in forever homes, as well as arranged adoptions through Adopt & Shop, Found Animals’ humane-model retail and adoption boutique. Gilbreath loves her job at Found Animals, because every day presents a new chance to save pets and enrich the lives of the people who love them.
PHOTO CREDIT: Found Animals
Time and time again I have talked with friends and neighbors concerning their “adopted:” pets, and I have hard the same thing. People who have adopted a dog from the various shelters are more than thrilled with their new family members. They all talk of an “instant connection” at the shelter when their eyes met with their choice. Shelter pets seem to appreciate all that their new pet parents do for them in their forever home. When you consider the natural disasters that have occurred in the last years, there are many pets that need a forever home. We hope that local shelters will be visited by prospective pet parents to provide some chance of adoption to occur. Remember , for the most, these pets are already socialized and house trained. This is a big plus for many families.
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Lovinmypup.com is also looking into restarting the program of featuring your pets on line. No decision has been made as to the location of this feature. It may be on this site or on a seperate blog site. More information will follow as decisions are made, Keep coming back for more information and future updates.
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