The decision to adopt an animal, whether it’s a dog, cat, bunny, or turtle, requires a lot of thought. It’s an important choice that will impact every aspect of your life (time, financial, lifestyle) for years to come, so before making a spur of the moment decision, it’s critical that you first decide if pet adoption is right for you at all. Here are a few questions to ask yourself prior to adopting an animal.
Are You Ready to Commit?
Animals can live up to 15 years or longer, so this question should be answered first. If you travel or move a lot, or are anticipating life changing events (marriage, moving) in the near future, you may want to hold off on adopting a pet until the dust has settled. Also, project out. Ask yourself whether you’ll be able to take care of your pet when and if circumstances do change in your life.
Can You Afford It?
The initial cost of adopting a pet can vary greatly, depending on the type and condition of the animal, the location, and the shelter. The cost to adopt a dog, for example, can be well over $200, based on the dog’s age and whether or not spaying or neutering is required.
The adoption fee is just the beginning, though. The animal you adopt will determine the lifetime cost, but you may have annual vet bills for vaccinations and checkups, food, vacuums for your pets, collars, leashes, dewormers, tanks and lighting, and flea and tick medications that need to be considered in the long term cost projection.
Do You Have Time?
Animals are intended to be companions, and many breeds are more person-focused than others. If you are thinking about adopting a cat or dog, for example, think about just how much time you’ll have to spend socializing with your new pet. Also, consider training needs. If you want to adopt a young animal, or one that hasn’t been properly trained, you’ll need to consider the time and expense associated with training him, either at home or through obedience classes.
Training is a big part of the time factor, but the animal’s other ongoing needs are important, too. You also have to consider grooming requirements (shedding, bathing, brushing) and clean up (messes, litter box, tank). Not to mention playtime, exercise, and cuddle time!
Is Your Home Ready for a Pet?
If you have really young children in the home, or are expecting a child, consider waiting a few years before adopting a pet, especially a dog. New pets in particular require additional attention and focus, and if they can’t get the attention they need because there are young children who also require the same energy from you, behavioral issues may develop with the new animal. Resentment and competition can result when an animal feels neglected.
Another home consideration is space. Do you have adequate room for the type of pet you want to adopt? If you live in a small space, a large dog, or a pet that requires a large tank (snakes, lizards) may not be a good fit. If that’s the case, don’t settle for a smaller animal that you really don’t want. Wait until your living situation is conducive to your ideal pet before adopting one.
Only you will know whether or not adopting a pet is right for you. Take your time in making a choice about if, when, and what type of animal to adopt. The decision to assume responsibility for the life of an animal is an all-encompassing one, and it will affect every aspect of your life for years to come.