More than a pretty face
How to have a successful pet adoption
Have you ever been enticed by the image of an adorable puppy or kitten, dog or cat, frolicking at your feet,looking up at you with winsome charm and snuggling up to you on a cold winter’s night? All this and more can be yours when you adopt a pet, if you do your homework first.
Adopt, don’t shop: The first question is from which source you’ll acquire your animal: a shelter, a pet store or a breeder. We strongly encourage you to adopt from a local animal shelter. According to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, more than 4,100 dogs and cats are killed each day in American animal facilities. Think about it. That is 170 companion animals killed each hour because they don’t have a home. The only way to stop this is to demand aggressive spay/neuter policies and to adopt responsibly. Be sure that your pet is subtracting from the companion animal overpopulation problem, not adding to it.
The Animal Protective League (APL) is the area’s largest animal welfare organization and is dedicated to ending the euthanasia of healthy, adoptable animals. APL, which exists primarily through donations, maintains a limited admission animal shelter that prioritizes sick, injured, abused or homeless animals, an award-winning spay/neuter clinic and a number of animal welfare programs that serve the community.
Every animal adopted from APL has been spayed or neutered and received appropriate medical care before it goes to a new home. It is important to note that each animal adopted from APL opens up space for another animal. Lest you think that one animal won’t make a big difference, APL adopts an average of 2,100 animals each year, and spays or neuters 13,000 annually. That is a lot of animals saved. One by one, the numbers add up.
Prepare to adopt: Now that you’ve made the compassionate decision to adopt responsibly, your next step is to give serious thought to the kind of animal you want and if your lifestyle will accommodate it. Pet ownership is a multi-year commitment, never to be taken lightly.
Do you prefer a cat or a dog? In general, dogs and puppies require more time and attention than do cats and kittens. It is unfair to adopt a dog if it will be alone too much. Some people want young animals. Remember that puppies and kittens must be trained and require a lot of patience. Adopting an older animal who has been trained to use a litter box or who has been house broken may be the wiser choice. Many wonderful older animals are passed over simply because they are older. Species, age and daily needs of the animal must be thought through.
Does your landlord allow pets? Too many broken-hearted animals are relinquished because their owners thought they could get by having a pet in a rental unit that prohibited animals.
How much time do you have or wish to devote to your pet? Do you want a sweet cat to curl up on your lap as you read? Do you want a larger dog to accompany you on hikes? Deciding the age, size, and exercise needs of your pet are important considerations.
Do you have enough money to maintain a pet? If you acquire an unaltered animal, it will need to be spayed or neutered. All animals will need regular visits with a veterinarian for vaccinations and preventative care. This does not include an emergency medical fund for your beloved pet. Costs vary, but money is an indisputable factor of pet ownership.
The payoff: After carefully thinking through all the decisions required before adopting, never lose sight of the huge pluses. Dogs and cats bring love and joy to peoples’ lives, unlike any other source. Animals are fun, devoted, loving and even enhance your health. They lower blood pressure, encourage exercise, create a bridge to human relationships and more. They love you. You are the center of their universe. They expand your life in new and unique ways. There’s nothing like a devoted animal in your life.
Diane M. Cape is a board member with the Animal Protective League, an organization dedicated to caring for ill, injured and abused homeless animals and offering high-quality, low-cost spay and neuter services.