Question:

What should I consider before adopting or rescuing a pet?

If you Choose to Adopt a Pet, Make an Informed and Thoughtful Decision

The decision to adopt a pet is a huge responsibility for you and your family. Animal shelters are likely to ask you a series of questions and even ask for documentation and references, but it still makes sense to give your lifestyle, your needs, and your intentions before you start the process. Things to consider include:

• Animals are a long-term commitment; this commitment can last 10-15 years for dogs and up to 20 years for a cat. Remember that this animal will be with you through many different times in your life.

• Animals do not adjust well to solitude, and long stretches of alone time can evolve into behavioral and emotional problems for pets. Think about whether you will be able to have a consistent, primary caretaker so that the pet's daily needs do not get lost in the shuffle of busy schedules.

• The responsibility of having a pet includes protecting his health and safety, and includes costs that extend beyond the adoption fee (including basic and emergency veterinary care, toys, supplies, food, etc.).

• Think about where you live and where you might live during your pet's lifetime: not every pet is right for your household, and your household might not be right for every pet.

• If you have allergies, or think you might have small children, or other life issues that would make you change your mind, strongly reconsider adopting. You will save yourself and a needy animal heartache in the long run.

• If you do decide to adopt, be a responsible owner: spay or neuter your pet; keep his vaccinations and heartworm medications up to date; take dogs to obedience training and learn about cat behavior; clean up after your pets, and spend time with them.

If you make the decision to adopt thoughtfully and carefully, and you are a responsible owner, pet adoption can be a very fulfilling experience and can yield many years of happy companionship. In addition your donation to an animal shelter will help save animals from the streets to get into happy homes.

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Tammi Reynolds