So you really want to adopt a pet or an animal companion? Congratulations! You’ll be in for an exciting and fun time which can change your life for better (or for worse!). We bet that you can’t wait to have another family member and we salute you for considering opening your home to another creature; however, are you truly prepared and ready to adopt a pet?
Oftentimes, we think of pet or animal companions as simple creatures which we can just get or buy and everything will be smooth-sailing; but really, that kind of thinking is what fairy-tale adoption stories are made of. While it is true that some animal and human matches are simply made in heaven, it won’t hurt to first assess and ensure that you’re all set for adopting another creature. You see, the reason why some pet adoptions don’t go well is because of unrealistic expectations and lack of research about the animal to be adopted. To help you out with all of that, we made our very own homeoanimal list of considerations before adopting pet as part of our ultimate guide to pet adoption series. Without further ado, below are the 10 things you must consider before adopting an animal:
Adoption Consideration #1 - Reasons for Adopting
Have you asked yourself why you want a pet? Oftentimes, people adopt animals for the sole reason they are cute or wanted to surprise a family member. Some people adopt a pet to give it a good home or to have some companionship. These reasons are not good enough people! While your heart may be in the right place when you decide to adopt an animal, you also have to set realistic expectations and have the right reasons.
What kind of reasons are right? If you wanted to surprise a family member who wants to have a Labrador (just an example), you should also consider how ready that person is to take care of that animal physically, emotionally, and financially. If you want to adopt an animal for yourself for companionship, you have to come to terms with the fact that the animal may not provide you with the warmth of friendship you’re craving. Even friendly breeds can have an occasional snob amongst their ranks.
So what reasons are not so right? Reasons for adopting which are questionable are: adopting an animal to teach a child a lesson, adopting just because the pet is cute, or adopting an animal just because you feel sorry for it. Jen Daley of Pet Dog Adoption shares, “Don’t adopt based on a sad story. The animal will feel it.”
Adoption Consideration #2 – Available Time
How much time do you have to care for an animal on a daily basis? This is a serious issue for most pet owners. Why? Because even a lonely hermit crab or a single goldfish takes up some of your time! Once you have a pet or has taken an animal under your care, you cannot do some of the things you are used to doing without considering how it will affect the time you can spend with your pet and how the pet will be taken care of.
Want to go on an extended vacation or simply take off to some exotic location on a whim? When you have an animal depending on you for its needs (yes, even the hermit crab needs some TLC from you!), your days of true spontaneity would be gone as you would almost always need to arrange for some sort of pet nanny whenever you’ll be gone for an extended period of time. Not just that, some animals (like dogs) are social creatures and would need daily interaction and/or exercise with you. Think of that before grabbing the cutest animal you see for adoption.
Adoption Consideration #3 – Reality VS. Fantasy
What are your expectations? Do you expect that the dog you’re planning to adopt will suddenly make you a more approachable person? Do you fantasize that you and your new parakeet would be hollering and having fun like sailors? Or do you have daydreams of your new cat being the new kitty internet sensation? Whatever your expectations are, you should know that some things may be far from what you are envisioning them to be like once you adopt an animal. What we mean is, just try to be open to that possibility as well. As Janet Winikoff of The Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River County says: “I would also suggest that prospective pet parents not get hung up on breeds. Some people come in and only want a particular breed of dog because the dog they’ve had previously was that same exact breed. Animals aren't mass produced cookie-cutter style.”
Just like most of our real life expectations, pets do not always fit the bill we have in mind. In some cases they might fall a bit short and in some cases, they exceed even your wildest imagination. The key is to keep your expectations inn check.
Adoption Consideration #4– Maturity and Responsibility
Can you handle losing a loved one? How would you cope if you have to give the pet up for reasons such as deteriorating health conditions or other possible problems? If you are planning to adopt an animal, there will be times when the animal may not be as cooperative or as nice as you would want it to be. Are you prepared for the new puppy going after your bag collection? How about explaining to your kid why Mr. Goldie is floating in his tank upside down?
Once you get an animal as a pet or for whatever reason, you have to be responsible for it at all times for the animal’s entire lifetime; just like Sherri Moore of Menifee Valley Humane Society says: “The biggest thing people need to realize is that a pet is a lifetime responsibility, for the life of the pet. Not until: They get married, have a baby, move, or until the pet gets sick, etc. We find that many people are completely unprepared for the responsibility in terms of time and finances. A lot of the information is common sense, but people don’t always realize what they are getting into.” With this article, we hope you’ll not be one of those kinds of pet owners.
Adoption Consideration #5 – Type of Animal to Adopt
Oh boy, this will be a circus unless you already have a breed or an animal in mind. There are so many lovable critters out there that choosing just one can be a very daunting task, especially if you have the resources to take care of a few or many types. The secret is to keep your adoption at a one-at-a-time pace to give yourself, your household, and the new animal time to adjust. Of course, all of these and all other preparation depends on what type or breed you’ve chosen to be your new family member. If you have financial or space restrictions, you have to consider that too.
As for thinking of what animal to adopt, you will do better if you would first assess your personality and lifestyle. If you’re a loner and don’t have time for walks, a dog is not for you unless you go for the very low energy ones. This tip is one of the few considerations which Catherine Naber of Cats Canine Academy have shared with us.
Adoption Consideration #6 – Animals with Special Needs
Will the animal need some training or have special needs? Some animals like horses and some types of dogs will need to be trained. Even cats can come to you needing to be litter-box-trained so yes, this is a very real concern before adopting a pet. How about the pet’s age? Are you prepared to modify your home a bit to accommodate an aging pet later on or perhaps hire someone to address your pet’s needs?
Adoption Consideration #7 – Space and Location
This consideration prior to pet adoption goes hand in hand with adoption consideration #6 and touches on other topics as well. Some pets need a lot of space even though they are small. An example of this are guinea pigs as you’d need a hutch and a place to store the animal’s things. On the contrary to that, some big dogs basically act like pieces of furniture and would do well even in a one bedroom condominium or apartment with only an occasional romp at the park.
You’d have to know your county’s or state’s local laws before adopting certain pets too. For instance, pygmy goats are still considered as livestock in some places and thus may be illegal to keep in a residential area.
Adoption Consideration #8– Current and Future Financial Situation
How prepared are you (financially speaking) to adopt an animal? Pets can cost a lot of money depending on type, breed, and your current financial situation. It is true that if you only have very small space, sparse time, and minimal funds, a goldfish may be ideal but still, whatever little thing that goldfish needs is still $$$. Eric McCune of The Bella Foundation shares, “People are often unaware of the overall cost of owning a pet. I would encourage someone to consider seriously their financial ability to care for a pet in the worst scenario. None of us plan for an emergency but emergencies do happen.”
Some people adopt certain pets and then are unable to keep them later. Horses, for instance, can cost a lot to maintain if you live in the city. Even a Chihuahua may need a visit to the doctor once a year and some people really cannot afford that, or at least not in the long run. Have you thought about how you will keep the pet if your financial situation changes for the worse?
Adoption Consideration #9 – Living with the Animal for a Lifetime
Are there any health issues related to pet or animal allergies in your family? Do you have someone who can look after the pet if you’ll be gone for a few days? How about the lifestyle you have? Do you often bring people over? Are you okay with the pet possibly peeing on your things or gnawing on your furniture? All of these are issues which pet parents deal with on a day to day basis.
Having a pet is just like having a child. Chris Bedell of For Pet’s Sake Animal Rescue said on an interview with us: “We try to help people realize that adopting a pet, is much like adopting a child, it's a LONGTERM commitment, not to be done on a whim, or to be done as a gift for an unsuspecting friend/relative, that may not feel the same way about that particular pet as you do.” Paws United Dog Rescue says, “Do NOT adopt if anyone in the family isn't 100% on board with the idea. This can cause a lot of stress on the dog and the family. We want to make sure every single person that will be involved in that dog’s life wants them. We want a forever home, not a for-now-home. Returning a dog after adoption is hard on everyone.”
Why do you think some pet owners call themselves animal parents? Once you have a pet, that pet will just be like any other member of your nuclear family. The pet will always be a part of your decision-making. How? Every time you bring people at home you have to consider how the pet will react. It would be unfair to banish a pet to its kennel for an entire weekend just because your cousin who has some allergy is staying for a few days. It would also be unfair for a pet to be left home with only a few bowls of food and water should you decide to go on a weekend getaway. You might be able to do that with a cat (except a very bonded cat) but good luck trying that with a dog. Sure, the dog will love you and forgive you as soon as you get back home, but it is still unfair to treat a social animal like that.
Adoption Consideration #10 – Doing Your Research
How much reading and research have you done? Have you made steps to get to know your target animal? In this regard, googling cute youtube videos are not enough. We are talking of hardcore research here folks. Sure, some animals would simply melt your heart with how cute they are or if you’ve wanted one as a pet since you were a child but keep in mind that it is not always all rosy even when you find the perfect pet or animal for you.
Not doing enough information digging is one of the top reasons why pets and animals are surrendered or given up by their owners. Not convinced? Keyria Lockheart, a volunteer at Last Hope Cat Kingdom says so. She’s not alone, Heather, of Black Dog Second Chance says the same and it is the same piece of information which keeps coming up from all the rescues and shelters we’ve interviewed.
But what are the things you need do research on? Here is a great tip about doing proper research from Melissa of Daisy’s Animal Rescue League: “Research the pros and cons about the pet you are getting. Research the breed's needs; grooming, common health issues, temperament with dogs, small animals and children. Energy level. Likes and dislikes. Ask for a most current medical history, if the animal is spayed or neutered, microchipped, and heartworm tested. Always ask for the medical paperwork, references, what vet cares for the animal contact the vet. Another good tip for adopting a dog is ask about training or if they can refer you to a trainer. Always get reference!”
Issues can come up anytime. Certain breeds are prone to some diseases or health issues and there is no guarantee if the animal you’ve set your heart to will remain as cuddly and perfect as when you first got him or her. You must think of the future and how you will cope if future problems ensue. We will talk more about this on How to Be a Responsible Owner in our Ultimate Guide to Pet Adoption Series, but you get the idea.
There are a lot more considerations we would like to share with all of you prior to you getting a pet. Some things which we will just mention in passing are the pitfalls of giving pets as gifts, having a very young pet owner, being a military pet owner, having to relocate with your pet and the possibility of the pet not being allowed in a new home - all adoption issues brought up by Eugenia from the Animal Defense League of Texas and a few other animal care volunteers.
We hope that this article have helped you somehow and please feel free to let us know what are your thoughts on the subject. Every bit of information helps and will surely benefit other pet owners and prospective pet parents so don’t be shy and leave a comment down below or join us at Facebook! Everyone is welcome and if you don’t want to miss out on the latest in cute animal stories and features plus more of our The Ultimate Guide to Pet Adoption series, simply sign up to get our newsletters and updates delivered right to your inbox! You may also contact us if you wish. Til next time!