Who doesn’t want a pet? If you’re thinking of adopting a pet, you’ll join the more than 68 percent of U.S. homes with at least one pet, according to the 2017-2018 APPA Survey. If you’d like to join the club, it’s important to consider the decision first.
Even if you’re absolutely certain that you’re ready to bring a pet home, odds are there are important things you haven’t even considered. Do you really know what’s involved in caring for the pet of your choice? Do you know how to identify local shelters where you’re most likely to find a four-legged friend for life? Before you choose your next pet, learn about the ins and outs of pet adoption.
1. Go in With an Open Mind
Chances are you already have a picture in your mind about what the pet you adopt will be like. At the very least, you probably have a preference in terms of which type of pet; for example, you may have decided to adopt a cat, dog, or even a bird. Like many people, you may be looking for a puppy or a kitten, and you’d probably prefer a pet in good shape.
With all of that being said, pets of all ages, breeds, shapes and sizes deserve loving homes. You will be limited to whichever pets are at the shelter on the day you go, and it’s important to keep an open mind while considering them. Refusing to consider an older pet or one who has certain medical conditions could result in missing out on amazing opportunity not only for the pet but for you, so be open to adopting pets that fall outside of your list of desired qualities.
2. Take Your Time Making a Decision
Just because you seem to click with a certain pet at the shelter doesn’t mean you should adopt it automatically. Moreover, just because you feel like you are ready to adopt a pet doesn’t mean you are. Consider these points and give plenty of time and thought to the situation before making a decision:
- Why do you want to adopt a pet? Remember that a pet is more than just a constant companion. They have needs too. Even the best cat or dog in the world won’t magically make your life wonderful.
- Do you have time to care for a pet? Do you have enough free time in your life to devote to a pet? Will that continue to be true for the foreseeable future?
- Is your living situation conducive to pet ownership? Is your home suitable for the pet of your choice? If you rent, are pets even allowed?
- Are you prepared to deal with challenges? A pet is a living, breathing being. Medical emergencies and other bumps along the way are sure to occur. Will you be able to face them personally and financially?
- Are you adopting for life? Finally, are you truly prepared to care for your pet for the rest of its life?
3. Make Sure You Can Afford a Pet
In the excitement of adopting a new pet, it’s easy to downplay just how much money you’re going to spend on them through the years. Even if you don’t plan on “spoiling” your pet, the costs associated with pet ownership are considerable. Some examples of the common costs of adopting and caring for various pets include:
- Fish: A new fish can be had for free, but exotic species can run into the several thousands of dollars. A basic freshwater aquarium setup will set you back about $300.
- Birds: You can spend anywhere from $10 to upwards of $800 for a pet bird depending on the type of bird, according to The Spruce Pets. Expect to pay around $65 per month on food, medicine and supplies for your feathered friend.
- Cats: You will pay $600 to $1,100 in your first year of owning a cat, including adoption fees and vaccinations according to Money Under 30’s estimates. Thereafter, expect to pay $375 to $750 a year for the necessities.
- Dogs: The average cost per year of owning a small- or medium-sized dog is $500 to $875, PetPlace reports. Expect to pay closer to $700 to $875 per year to support a larger dog.
4. Research All the Needs of the Pet You Want
Another reason to take your time before adopting a pet is because it’s easy to impulsively adopt a pet without really knowing how much care it will actually need. Are you prepared to handle the needs and costs of whichever pet that you’re looking to adopt? Some common needs and their associated costs include:
- Initial Medical Exam – $70 for cats, $130 for dogs
- Spay or Neuter – $145 for cats, $200 for dogs
- Leash or Collar – $10 for cats, $30 for dogs
- Pet Carrier – $40 for cats, $60 for dogs
- License – $15
- Training – $125
- Microchipping – $45
5. Do Your Research on Local Shelters
In addition to all of that, it is crucial to locate a reputable animal shelter to find your new four-legged friend. When researching local shelters, check into the following:
- What kind of reputation does the facility have? Search online for reviews from others who have adopted pets from the facility.
- How is the overall cleanliness of the shelter? It should look and smell clean.
- Is there enough light and ventilation in the shelter, or does it seem dingy and dank?
- What are the employees like? From the technicians to the higher-ups, do they seem to genuinely care about the animals that are under their charge? Do they seem knowledgeable about the pets that they are trying to find homes for?
Adopting a pet is a joyous occasion, but it’s not something that should be taken lightly. By taking your time and giving plenty of thought to the decision, you’re more likely to find a pet you can love and care for properly.