Here are some questions that the American Humane Society and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals suggest you ask yourself before you adopt:
- Why do you want a pet?
- Do you have time to take care of a pet?
- Can you afford a pet?
- If you rent or lease, are pets allowed where you live?
- Have you thought about how a pet will be completely dependent on you for his or her entire life?
- What will happen if you decide to move?
- Have you considered whether your lifestyle and personality would make you a better dog owner or cat owner?
- What major changes might happen to you during a pet’s lifetime? Marriage? Children? New job? Long-distance move?
- Are you willing to continue spending the time, energy and money to care for your pet when taking on new responsibilities like the ones just discussed?
- What will you do if your spouse or child is allergic to or cannot get along with your pet?
- If you’re getting a pet for children you have now, are you willing to take on the responsibility of caring for this pet when your children grow up, lose interest or move away?
- Have you previously owned a pet that died prematurely due to a preventable accident or illness, such as being hit by a car or suffering from heartworm disease? If so, what will you do differently with a new pet to prevent the same thing from happening again?
With good care, most dogs can live 12 to 15 years. Most cats can live 15 to 20 years. That’s a long-term commitment. So before you decide to add a furry family member to your home, ask yourself these questions. And be honest with your answers!
Finding the Right Pet
Selecting the right pet for your family, living situations, and lifestyle is the single most important step in the adoption process. Each pet has different needs when it comes to care, feeding, behavior, cost, space, activity levels, etc. When visiting your local rescue or shelter, an adoption coordinator can help advise you on the right pet to meet your needs. Visit our adoption resources page for more information on selecting your perfect furry friend.
Stock Up on The Essentials
Your necessities will of course depend on the pet — but just as humans, keep in mind that your new pet is going to need the basics: food, water and shelter. (We’ll add toys in there, too.)
Food: Before bringing your pet home, check with the shelter or rescue group to see what brand of food your pet is eating. It’s best to feed your pet the food it’s used to — changing foods suddenly may cause them to feel sick.
Shelter: Pets like to have their own space. This might be a small shelter area in a cage, or a designated pet bed — wherever your pet feels safe and comfortable.
Toys: Playtime is a great bonding experience for you and your pet; it’ll also keep them entertained when you aren’t around. Be sure to have a variety of toys available — such as something to cuddle with, chew on and toss around.
Pet Proof Your Home
Getting a new pet can be a really exciting time for your family. But it’s important that you make sure your home is a safe and welcoming place for your new friend. Here’s how to prep your home. Just like with a baby, your home needs to be pet-proofed to ensure there aren’t any readily available dangers for your new pet to discover. Not only that, but you’ll also want to protect your own things. Shoes, clothes and more — pets are notorious for being nosey, especially when you aren’t around. So be sure to put anything (and everything) you don’t want your pet getting in to (or chewing up) out of site and out of reach. Some items to consider containing:
- Electrical cords
- Cleaning products
- Hygiene products
- Personal belongings
Get the Family Ready
Part of prepping your home for a new pet includes prepping your own family. If you have children, be sure to establish set rules for playing and caring for the new pet. It may help to go to your local shelter and ask a volunteer to help teach your children how to interact with the animals. For puppies and dogs, you’ll also want to educate your family on preventing the chance of biting — like avoiding the pet while they are eating or sleeping. Check with your local shelter, they’ll be able to provide you with tips for preparing your family for new pet.