Adopt an Animal

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Questions to Ask Yourself Before Adopting

Caring for a companion animal goes far beyond providing food, water and shelter. It takes a little planning to bring the right pet into your home, and to make sure your lifestyle is right for your pet. Answering the following questions will help get you started.

1. Why do you want to adopt a pet?
Are you looking for the loyal and steady companionship that an animal can offer? Are you hoping to fill the empty place left after a pet has passed? Maybe you want a companion for your child. Knowing why you’re preparing to bring a pet home will help you to choose your pet wisely.

2. Are you ready to make a long-term commitment?
When adopting, you are making a commitment to care for an animal for the rest of his life—that could mean 10 to 15 years for dogs and up to 20 years for cats. As you go through lifestyle changes such as moves, the birth of children and new jobs, your animal will remain a permanent part of your life. If circumstances change, will you still be able to care for your pet?

3. Do you know what kind of pet is right for you?
Your personality and lifestyle, along with challenges such as space restrictions and amount of time spent at home, should be explored to determine what pet is right for your household. Ask shelter staffers what animals they recommend—they're experts at making perfect matches!

4. Can you afford to care for your pet’s health and safety?
Owning a dog or cat costs more than the initial adoption fee. Food, veterinary care, spaying or neutering can add up. Check what you can expect to pay annually for your pet.

5. Will you be able to spend quality time together?
Dogs thrive on several hours of exercise and companionship every day. Dogs that are neglected and left alone often develop behavioral problems. Cats are healthiest and happiest indoors and love to be treated to energetic play sessions with their human families. If your work demands that you travel often, or if you’re out of the house most days and evenings, you might want to look at a cat rather than a dog.

6. Are you prepared to deal with an animal’s health challenges?
Fleas, allergies and sudden medical issues are just a few of the health-related problems that potential pet owners may face. Can you care for your pet if he gets sick.

7. Are you prepared to pet-proof your home?
Whether it’s tightly sealing your garbage cans or paying attention to dangerous decorations during the holidays, you’ll need to make your home safe before adopting. That includes keeping toxic foods, pet-unfriendly plants and dangerous household items out of paw’s reach.

8. Is your living space adequate for an animal companion?
Be sure to choose an animal that will thrive in your home. If you’re attracted to energetic large dogs, but live in a small apartment, will your dog have enough room? If you live on a noisy street, will it disturb your cat? Also consider that many landlords don't allow pets or place restrictions on having them. Be sure to check out your “house rules” before adopting.

9. Is your family ready for a pet?
If your kids are still toddlers, you might consider waiting a few years before adopting, as pet ownership ideally is a team effort. Children who are mature enough can happily share pet-care duties. You may also have another pet at home who’s not yet—or may never be—ready to share his kingdom with another animal.