Friday, August 26, 2011

Things to Consider Before Adopting a Pet

By Julia Williams

We’ve all succumbed to spur of the moment desires at one time or another. Willpower and our emotional state play a huge part in our ability to resist the lure of an impulse purchase. It may not be life-changing to grab a candy bar at the checkout stand, but there are some things you should never obtain on a whim, and a pet is one of them.

Sadly, many people learn this lesson the hard way, including me. When I was just 18, I fell in love with an adorable poodle mix puppy at my local shelter. I didn’t know anything about raising a dog or being a responsible pet owner, and I wasn’t by any means “settled” in my life or career. My only thought before adopting PJ was that she needed a home and someone to love her. I could provide that, but had I stopped to consider all of the other things a dog needs, I would have let her go to someone who was more capable and prepared for pet ownership. When I had to re-home PJ it broke my heart, but the valuable lesson I learned will stay with me forever, and I’ll never, ever adopt another pet on impulse.

Questions to ask before you get a pet

1. Are you committed to caring for the pet for its entire life, and can you be reasonably sure that you’ll be able to? Life is full of unforeseen changes and calamities, but pets should not be discarded when they become inconvenient or present challenges. If you can’t pledge to take care of a pet through good times and bad, then pet ownership is not for you.

2. Are you financially able to care for a pet for its entire life, which could be 10, 15 and possibly even 20 years or more? This is a hard question that requires brutal honesty. No one likes to admit they aren’t financially stable, but economics must trump emotions when it comes to the decision to adopt a pet.

You have to consider the total cost of pet ownership and whether it’s in your means to provide adequate care. In addition to quality pet food like CANIDAE and FELIDAE, pets require regular veterinary visits as well as various supplies. It may not initially seem like much, but the cost of a lifetime of pet food, grooming tools, toys, bedding, flea control, food and water bowls, kitty litter, leashes, collars and licenses can add up.

3. Is now a good time for you to have a pet? Is there enough stability in your life to allow for a pet? Do you foresee your circumstances changing in the immediate future? Are your living arrangements suitable for a pet? If you’re renting, does your lease allow pets? Do you have enough time available to meet all of your pet’s needs? Are you physically capable of caring for a pet? Unless you can confidently answer yes to all of these questions, it’s wise to rethink pet ownership until your circumstances change.

4. Will you be a responsible pet owner for life? This encompasses a great many things, including but not limited to obeying leash and license laws, having your pet spayed or neutered to prevent unwanted pregnancies, pet proofing your home and yard to ensure their safety, providing enough daily exercise and a healthy diet, grooming them regularly, providing consistent training that discourages bad behavior, and giving them the love and attention they crave.

Pets are for life

The questions above are really just the tip of the iceberg in terms of things to consider before getting a pet, but they are a good place to start. If it seems like overkill, a visit to your local animal shelter will help you understand why it’s so important to carefully think it through before saying yes to a pet. Shelters are full of dogs and cat that were surrendered by people who didn't consider what it truly means to be a responsible pet owner before they adopted. Unfortunately, it’s the pet that pays the biggest price.

Photo by Petteri Sulonen

Read more articles by Julia Williams


  1. Those sure are all good things to think about before getting a pet. Too bad more people don't think about them before they get a pet. Then maybe we wouldn't have so many animals in the shelters.

  2. Excellent! Yes, it's fur life and our lives depend on it!

  3. Great post! There are so many things to consider, than just taking home those puppy dog or kitten eyes. I believe it is as serious as having a child and the commitment and responsibility they come with.

  4. This is great post ! and while mom read each question, she answers each of question..." Yes I do ! " : )

  5. What a wonderful post!

    Nubbin wiggles,

  6. Although my Human has hadded kitties all her life (since she was three years old!), she says she didded NOT know WHAT she was getting into with me, Mr. Feral-est of the Feral. But she stuck it out and we get along pretty well now...or **I** think so anyway. Ha ha ha. More laptime, Human? As if!


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