The fact that you're thinking about
adopting from an animal shelter means you're a
responsible and caring person. But before you
make that decision to bring a furry friend into
your life, take a moment to think over these
- 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
- Do you have time for a pet?
Dogs, cats, and other animal companions
cannot be ignored just because you're tired
or busy. They require food, water, exercise,
care, and companionship every day of every
year. Many animals in the shelter are there
because their owners didn't realize how much
time it took 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
- 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 a companion. Pet ownership requires
children who are mature enough to be
responsible. If you're a student, in the
military, or travel frequently as part of your work,
waiting until you settle down is
- Are your living arrangements
suitable for the animal you have in mind?
Animal size is not the only variable 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. That
way, you'll ensure you choose an animal who
will fit into your lifestyle and your living
- 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.
- Finally, are you prepared to
keep and care for the pet for his or her
entire lifetime? When you adopt a pet, you
are making a commitment to care for the
animal for his or her lifetime.
Get an Animal for Life
Sure, it's a long list of
questions. But a quick stroll through an animal
shelter will help you understand why answering
them before you adopt is so important.
Many of the shelter's homeless
animals are puppies and kittens, victims of
irresponsible people who allowed their pets to
breed. But there are at least as many dogs and
cats at the shelter who are more than a year
old—animals who were obtained by people
who didn't think through the responsibilities
of pet ownership before they got the
Please, don't make the same mistake. Think
before you adopt. Sharing your life with a
companion animal can bring incredible rewards,
but only if you're willing to make the
necessary commitments of time, money,
responsibility, and love—for the life of
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