There are all sorts of different ways you might go about adopting a pet. Some…
It’s the most heart-warming scenario you can imagine: the wide eyes of the children at Christmas or on their birthday, when you come in from the kitchen with their present. It’s a puppy! It’s a kitten! Isn’t it wonderful?
Well, maybe not. Because pet adoption is something that should be approached seriously and with a lot of prior preparation. And chances are, if you’re surprising a youngster with a puppy or kitten like this, neither the home nor the family has been properly prepared. You didn’t want to give anything away, did you, by suddenly showing up with all the food, leashes, crates, litter boxes, and other supplies? And you certainly weren’t going to be discussing things like, “If we hypothetically got a puppy some day, who would hypothetically be most responsible for hypothetically feeding and training it?”
Yet all of these are things that really must be worked on, in advance, before either the home or family are ready for the responsibility of caring for this animal.
Pet adoption needs to be planned honestly and with wide open eyes. There are so many factors that have to be considered.
For example, how big an animal can your home handle? What sort of animal will feel comfortable there, and relate well with the family? If you’re in an apartment in a high rise, do the windows or balcony door shut securely, so the pet won’t be in danger of falling? Does the landlord even allow pets? Will existing pets get along with the animal, or will this be one too many? If you’ll be taking a dog for walks, you’ll need to consider whether you live in a safe neighbourhood. Are there parks nearby, or will you have to drive somewhere to give the dog a proper walk or run?
Will the pet get along with people in the family? Will they be safe, if the pet gets rowdy?
Matters of responsibility also must be decided in advance. Whose job will it be, primarily, to feed the pet and clean up messes? Who will walk it? Members of the family will need to have enough time to spend with the animal, socializing it and making it feel like it belongs. Who will train it? And very importantly, if children are given some of these responsibilities, will they abandon them later? If parents aren’t willing to take up the slack or to enforce the duties assigned to the children, perhaps it’s not the right time to adopt.
Have you tallied the complete monthly costs of having this pet? License, food, litter, toys, scratching post, regular vet visits and vaccinations, health insurance?
These are all questions that need to be answered before even deciding to get a pet, and to help decide which sort of pet to get. But after the decision has been made, the home itself should be properly prepared, so the animal walks into a completely safe environment. And, frankly, so it can’t do too much damage while it gets used to the place.
Have you researched and removed (or relocated) all plants that are poisonous to the incoming pet? What about electrical cords? Have you enclosed them in something to protect them (and the pet) from chewing? Have you moved small ornaments to a higher location so the animal can’t break or swallow them? Is there somewhere to sequester the pet before introducing it, gradually, to other pets in the house?
Clearly, adopting a pet is no small matter, and is certainly not a project that should ever be embarked on, just on a whim. Only by thinking carefully and making all the right preparations can you be sure that you really should have a pet, and that both you and the animal will be safe, healthy, and happy together.