Is your family thinking about growing with a furry, feathery, or scaly member?
Families find pets in a bunch of different ways: online sites like neighborhood listservs, family members, breeders, animal shelters, or even on the side of the road.
We believe that all animals deserve to live in a loving home with a family who cares for them and meets their needs–regardless of where the animal came from. But, if your family is ready to take the plunge into pet-parenting, adopting a pet from an animal shelter is our preferred way to go.
Well, for one thing, there are millions of animals in shelters across the country, ready for their family to come and find them. While we don’t have any issues at all with purchasing a pet through a reputable breeder, there’s no shortage of purebred dogs in shelters, either.
When you adopt from a shelter rather than, say, taking a dog listed free online or handed over from a family member, you’re getting some of the pet’s health care taken care of prior to bringing him or her home–super important if you’re trying to keep costs low or if you have other animals or kids in the home.
But! We’re getting ahead of ourselves, so let’s dive in!
Here are 10 things to consider before adding an adopted pet to your family:
- Do you have the time for a new pet? Pets need attention every single day, even pets like fish. Are you able to commit the time it takes every day to keep a pet happy and healthy? A great place to start is with a visit to a veterinarian! Ask what it takes each day to keep a specific type of pet happy and healthy, and decide if your family can commit.
- Are your children really ready for a pet? They might claim they’ll walk the dog, scoop the litter box, change the tank filter, and exercise the guinea pigs, but you know it’ll eventually fall on you. So, the real question becomes: Can your kids be held accountable and responsible for behaving appropriately around the pet?
- Do you have money set aside? Here’s the thing: Adopting a pet is actually a great way to save money because they come fully vetted and spayed or neutered. However, food, gear, tanks, toys, litter, vaccinations, monthly medications like heartworm pills, vet visits, bedding… it all adds up.
- Is your home pet-proofed? If you adopt a dog, is your yard safely fenced-in? If you adopt a hamster, do you have somewhere like a bathtub where he can get daily exercise? If you adopt a bird, is there a quiet corner for his cage, plus space to stretch his wings? If you’re thinking about a baby animal–of any species–are you set up to prevent bathroom accidents and chewing problems? If not, can you take all the steps before bringing home your new pet?
- What are you looking for in a pet? Does your family want a hiking partner? Or a furry to cuddle with on the couch? Are you hoping to teach your kids responsibility? Or provide them with something interesting to watch and observe each day? Determine what your family’s desires are for a pet, which leads us to…
- What species should you adopt? Dogs, cats, rabbits, fish, lizards, and more: You can find any kind of feathered, furry, or scaly friend at your local animal shelter. Depending on what your family is looking for will determine the species you choose. If you want a bud to take adventuring, a dog is a great choice. If you want your kids to learn about caring for animals, a fish tank with a daily feeding chart is a great place to start. Your local veterinarian or the staff at your shelter can help you figure this out based on your needs, and they can even match you to the right animal for your family!
- Can you commit to meeting the pet’s needs? Time, attention, and money–we’ve discussed those. But what about training? And getting home from work in time for feedings? There are so many needs beyond the basic food, water, and shelter. Make sure your family understands a specific animal’s needs and is ready to commit. A vet or shelter staff are great people to get those details!
- Should you adopt a young animal or an older animal? Puppies and kittens are wildly appealing. They’re cute! They’re fluffy! They’re silly! Your kids will go gaga! But… they need to be potty trained and, well, trained altogether. They chew stuff up. Teethe. Have accidents. Make lots of mistakes while they’re learning. That’s perfect for families who understand what they’re getting into and are excited for the challenge, but not so perfect for super-busy families who are in and out of the house all day. After you’ve determined the species you’d like to adopt, think about the pace of life you lead to think through the best age for you, your kids, and the incoming pet. An adoption councilor at your shelter can help you pinpoint the right lifestage for your family!
- Who will care for your pet when your family travels? Family vacations, holidays, weekend soccer camps… you’ll need to arrange pet care. Do you have a family member or neighbor you trust who is also available around the holidays? Will you have to hire a pro? Is that cost factored into your budget? It’s not difficult to find professional pet sitters, and boarding facilities, but if you’re adopting an exotic animal, is there someone in your area who cares for those types of animals?
- Do you LOVE love? OK, that’s a trick question! Of course you do! Here’s the thing: Adopting a shelter animal guarantees a lotta love will enter your household. While the other nine points are super important considerations, the reality is that the love a pet brings to your family make all the rest worthwhile–IF you go into choosing a pet with the right frame of mind!
OK, your turn!
Are you currently looking to adopt a pet? What are your family’s considerations? Or, if you have a pet, how did you decide who to add and when? Do your kiddos take on any of the pet care responsibilities? Share in the comments below!