If you are on social media you will see the cute, but often sad stories of animals in need of homes. If you are feeling tempted to jump in and help, you’ll need this important adoption advice for new pet parents.
Adopting a pet can be one of the most rewarding decisions you’ll ever make. In addition to gaining a loyal friend who will bring endless joy and companionship, adopting from a shelter or rescue group means you are directly saving two lives. When you bring home a rescue pet you’re freeing up a space for another animal who needs a second chance at a happy life. You also support the fight against pet overpopulation.
Read on for important adoption advice for new pet parents …
Caring for a companion animal goes far beyond providing food, water and shelter. It takes research and careful planning to bring the right pet into your home. And to make sure your lifestyle is the right one for your new pet. But how do you know if it’s the right time for you to welcome a four-legged (or three-legged!) addition?
If you are considering adopting a pet, take a look at these helpful adoption tips:
Get the whole family involved in the process
There’s an emotional connection that comes with selecting a pet. It may be the look on the pet’s face or the way he held out his paw. But it’s an emotional bond that usually begins when you first see or spend time with him. Choosing a pet is personal for most people, so it’s important to involve the whole family. A pet is a lifetime commitment so it’s important to ensure that all your family members are on board with getting one.
Look into potential allergies
It is astonishing how many people are heartbroken that they have to return pets because they were unaware of their allergies. Be prepared beforehand. Interact with cats or dogs to see if there could be an allergy issue.
Which 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 staff for guidance. They’re experts at making perfect matches!
Understand the financial costs of a pet
Calculate the cost of purchasing supplies and ongoing fees for your new pet. Things like food, treats, litter for cats, boarding costs, walking gear for dogs and yearly vet exams and vaccinations. Also factor in a contingency budget in case the pet becomes sick.
Make sure to research what is included with the adoption
Pets adopted from reputable rescue groups will come fully vetted for a small adoption fee. TEARS Animal Rescue charges an adoption fee of R900. This includes initial vaccinations, sterilisation and deworming. It also includes tick and flea treatment and an ID tag and a microchip. It costs over R2000 to get all that for the “free” kitten or puppy you found online.
Pets aren’t gifts
A pet can be the best gift in the world, and while surprises are great, giving a pet as a gift may be more surprise than someone is expecting. It may not be appreciated. Don’t just give a pet as a gift to someone without first making sure they want a companion animal. Some people might love animals but not have the time or the ability to care for one. If you want to give someone a pet, for Christmas or their birthday for instance, it’s best to offer paying the adoption fee so they can have the fun of picking – and being picked by – their new family member.
Important adoption advice for new pet parents. If you have young children, just accept that you’re the one who is going to be taking care of the pet.
Children may promise to take full responsibility, and they’ll mean it with all their heart, but it’s just not going to happen. No matter how much we want it to. And constant battling with a child over the pet might build resentment. It’s important that children realise from an early age that a pet is a sentient being. It requires gentle handling, proper feeding and a certain amount of clean up. Children learn to love and respect all animals by having a pet in the family. Show them how it’s done and you’ll help your child become a better, kinder person.
Volunteer at an animal shelter
Through no fault of their own, so many rescued pets in shelters don’t know how to sell themselves to potential families and are sadly overlooked. Our best advice: join the shelter as a volunteer and spend time with the animals, getting to know them, taking them for walks or grooming them. By spending more time at the shelter, you’re more likely to find the perfect pooch or kitty than doing a once-off tour around the shelter. And, your time will be greatly rewarded with kitty cuddles and canine kisses from animals who need it most!
Consider an adult or senior pet
While puppies and kittens are adorable, they require a lot of work and dedication so that they flourish into well-balanced adults. Consider adopting an older pet; there are so many young adult and senior pets in shelters who are looking for loving homes and they may adapt more easily to your home and be more conducive to your lifestyle. Be open to suggestions: shelter staff know the animals in their care and can help you select the most suitable pet for your family and lifestyle.
Are you sure you’re ready to be a pet parent?
Owning a pet is a lifestyle and you’ll need to be able to dedicate time to exercising, socialising and going to training classes. 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. Having a pet will impact future decisions like where you live and how often you travel and your home, garden and fence may require modifications. If you rent, you’ll need have to get your landlord’s permission. 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?
Unconditional love is waiting at an animal shelter near you! We really hope you’ll consider adopting your next dog or cat. The love they share is the greatest gift of all. Visit www.tears.org.za to meet the adorable adoptables at TEARS Animal Rescue who are patiently waiting for their happy ever afters.