Pet parenting is full of benefits, and it’s more than just cuddles and cuteness. Furry friends are also great for your mental and physical health and can improve your general quality of life. Whether you are adopting an animal that was given up, taking in a stray, or rescuing an animal from a precarious situation, adopting a pet means you are also saving a life.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) estimates that 6.5 million animals are placed in animal shelters each year, with only 3.2 million being adopted and re-homed. Given these numbers, choosing to adopt is a no-brainer.
It’s not just dogs and cats that are available for adoption, either. There are also birds, fish, reptiles, horses and many other potential pets looking for their forever homes.
But before you run full steam ahead into adoption, there are a couple things to keep in mind.
Are you ready?
Be realistic about your ability to provide a loving forever home for your new pet. The pandemic saw many people launch into pet ownership without proper planning only to experience what experts are calling “pet regret.” You should only adopt because you are prepared for all of the responsibilities, as well as the benefits, of being a pet parent.
Here are some of the top questions you should ask yourself when considering pet ownership:
How much will it cost?
Pets can be expensive. But the good news is that pet adoption fees can be more affordable than buying a puppy, kitten or horse from a breeder or a for-profit seller. (Watch out for anyone charging exorbitant fees: they may not have yours, or the animals’, best interest in mind.) Plus, since it’s typically older pets that are up for adoption, they’ve likely received vaccinations and some care.
It’s still important to go in with your eyes wide open. Older animals come with their own issues. Some adopted pets may have physical or mental health issues, or even just natural ailments that come with age. These factors could mean your pet comes with additional care costs you may not anticipate, so it’s worthwhile to spend time thinking about your budget before making a home for your furry friend.
Will it be easy? (Spoiler: maybe not at first.)
A lot of pet owners say that they didn’t choose their pet, but their pet chose them. It’s a nice sentiment to keep in mind when looking to adopt.
If you’re visiting an animal shelter, you can expect to go through a detailed screening process. They’ll likely ask about your home life and schedule, as well as your ability to care for the pets. You can also ask them any question you might have about potential pets. Ask about their attachment style, how they are with kids or other pets, and anything else you can think of that might impact their ability to be comfortable at home. Be aware: not everyone passes the screening, and you shouldn’t feel bad if you’re turned down.
When you’re looking at pets, pay attention to their reactions. For example, if you’re looking to adopt a dog, observe the pup in his kennel from a distance. How is he behaving on his own? Turn and face him with a neutral expression. Does he react positively? Make happy talk. Does he like it? No matter how far you get, be sure to watch his reactions all along. The same goes for shelter cats. Talk to her in a soft voice. See how she reacts to your presence. This is especially important if you have other pets at home, whether the same or different species.
Some adopted animals have often been through a lot and might take a little while to adapt once they’re home. A fearful dog might show signs of aggression to its new owners and family mates, while a cat might hide. The pet may have bathroom accidents. But don’t give up on these types of struggles, especially in the early days. Often, none of this is permanent.
Most pets are more than able to give and receive the affection, it might take some time. Think of it like a training montage in a movie: if you’re patient, and put in the work, you’ll eventually succeed and live happily ever after together.
Start your life together
While there’s certainly some effort at the beginning, pet adoption is an incredibly fulfilling experience. It’s nothing short of life-changing, both for you and your pet.
Once you’ve taken the plunge into pet ownership, you won’t be in it alone. Vetster is here to offer 24/7 on-demand virtual vet appointments and countless other resources to ensure you and your pet enjoy many happy years together. Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions at all.
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