So, you’ve been thinking about adding a pet to your family and want to adopt. If you are wondering how to know if you’re ready to welcome a four-legged addition, here are eight questions to ask yourself:
1. What’s my motivation?
Are you looking for unconditional love and loyal companionship? Do you want an exercise buddy or long for an enthusiastic snuggler? Then you’re on the right track. Bringing an adopted pet into your home is a wonderful way to gain a best friend, stress reliever, and workout partner, all rolled into one. Science has even determined there are proven health benefits to having a pet, such as lowering blood pressure and combating depression.
2. Is my living arrangement stable?
Change of living situation to a place where pets are not allowed is the number one reason pets are turned into shelters. Is your rental pet-friendly for the type of pet you want? Does your homeowners insurance permit it? Especially if you are considering adopting a large breed dog, make sure you’re clear on the legal ramifications. (Keep in mind, if your rental or homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover dogs, you can obtain Liability Insurance from a few nationwide insurers.)
Bringing an adopted pet into your home is a wonderful way to gain a best friend, stress reliever, and workout partner, all rolled into one. Science has even determined there are proven health benefits to having a pet, such as lowering blood pressure and combating depression.
3. Is my place set up for a pet?
The primary responsibility of any pet guardian is to keep your pet safe. With this in mind, take a look around your house. Is it safe for curious pets? If you’re not on the ground floor, can you keep your pet safe from falls? Is your yard fenced? Is access to your pool closed off? Are toxic chemicals out of reach in your kitchen and garage (including antifreeze or other fluid spills on the garage floor)?
4. Am I willing to make the time?
Cats and dogs need human interaction and exercise every day to stay physically and mentally healthy. Physical inactivity can lead to obesity, depression, and unwanted behaviors borne out of sheer boredom. If you are out of the house for long periods during the day, can you commit to spending quality time in the morning before you leave and in the evening when you come home? A pet door and a fenced yard are not sufficient as pets, unfortunately, will not take it upon themselves to go out and exercise. Besides, they will have missed you while you were out and will crave the attention and bonding that playtime or a walk will provide.
5. Do I have the financial bandwidth?
Having a pet as part of your family means providing beyond the basic needs of food and shelter. Your pet will need a comfy bed, durable, safe toys to play with, perhaps a crate, pet carrier or pet door, grooming products, etc. You may need to get your pet spayed or neutered - a must to avoid adding to the homeless pet problem you’re trying to alleviate by adopting. (Low and no cost Spay / Neuter clinics may be an option if you qualify.) You will also need to manage your pet’s health maintenance as you would any other dependent. Vaccinations, wellness checkups, and dental procedures are all things you will need to invest in to keep your pet healthy and happy. Additionally, unplanned vet visits may be required periodically if your pet gets sick. (You can help mitigate the cost of emergency vet visits by enrolling in pet insurance with monthly payment plans.)
6. Is my family on board?
If you live with one or more people in your household, are they ready to be a part of the daily care of a new pet? It is much easier (and more fun) to welcome a new pet into a household where the entire family enthusiastically supports the decision.
7. Are my kids old enough to respect a pet?
Nothing is cuter than kids and pets, and growing up with a pet can be incredibly rewarding for a child. In order to make the experience safe and enjoyable for everyone, your child should be old enough to understand which behaviors are no-no’s when interacting with pets (pulling ears and tails, climbing on or riding the pet, interfering with the pet’s food, etc.). If you have very young children at home, you might consider creating a space for your pet that is “off limits” to kids. This could be a room, part of a room, or a crate- -any quiet place your pet knows he can go when he needs some “alone time.”
8. Do I promise to take steps necessary to ensure my pet doesn’t end up at a shelter?
Lost pets are frequently denied reunification with their families because they can’t be identified. Shelters do the best they can to find their families, but pets who can’t be matched with owners are often euthanized due to lack of resources and space. Avoid this grim fate. Always keep a collar and tag on your pet with current, readable contact info; and microchip and register your pet's chip number in a national database such as the FREE microchip registry, found.org.
The Michelson Found Animals Foundation's mission of saving pets and enriching lives is made possible by the generous contributions of Dr. Gary Michelson and Alya Michelson.