So, You Want To Adopt A Pet?
“Awwwwwww, look at the cute wittle puppy! I want one!”
It usually starts out this way. People are so overwhelmed by the cuteness factor that they rationalize somewhere in their mind that they have the means to take care of the animal should they take it home with them. If you’re looking to bring a forever friend home with you, there are a few things you ought to know before you do.
The Proper Mindset
First and foremost, you need to know what you’re getting into. As the owner of a pet, YOU are the one responsible for what it does. YOU are the one responsible for its care. YOU are the one responsible for what it may do to other people. YOU are the one responsible for its happiness. YOU are the one responsible for making sure it has food. YOU are the one responsible for taking it to the vet for regular health care. YOU…YOU…YOU.
Get it now?
If you’re not prepared for a commitment or don’t feel like putting up with the work that comes with owning an animal, then you can stop reading right here.
Do Your Homework
That adorable German Sheppard puppy you saw tugged at your heart, we know. But did YOU know that German Sheppards require a lot of attention and exercise? Some German Sheppards aren’t good around smaller animals and they aren’t the kind of dogs you can leave chained up in your backyard. They are very social creatures. They want to be involved with everything you do. Are you prepared to handle this kind of breed?
It’s extremely important to know about the animals and breeds you are interested in before you bring them home, while keeping in mind that not ALL animals of a particular breed act the same way. If you are interested in a high energy dog, you have to ask yourself…”do you have the space for it to run, play, and exercise?” Doing your homework is absolutely necessary not only for the well-being of the pet, but for the safety of everyone in your household. Have an inquisitive small child that for whatever reason you let roam free around the house? Imagine what would happen if a dog who was highly protective of its food happened to be eating when the child came to investigate.
Not to sound like a broken record…but it is YOUR responsibility to know these things. Ignorance is not an excuse, especially when lives may be at stake.
Where Do I Find Them?
Buying a pet from the store or from breeders is expensive and I personally don’t approve of their practices…that is…making a profit on the sale of animals. You’ve got thousands of animals in kill shelters and all they want to do is make a profit? While the breed may be a good fit for you in theory, every animal is different, especially if they have a history you aren’t fully aware of.
Then there are smaller, private organizations that rescue animals from kill shelters, foster them for a while, and find them good, forever homes. These are the people who sacrifice their entire lives to care for five or six animals at a time while finding them homes…it’s not an easy task. They are to be commended for their dedication and love for animals.
One example of such an organization is FurKid Rescue, where we got our dog Lucy from.
If you’re going to adopt an animal, start your search at the rescue shelters or better yet, the smaller rescue organizations I mentioned above that allow you to foster animals so that you can see if the animal you are interested in is a good fit for you, your family, and them. It is very possible you may go through a few fosters before you find the right fit for your household and family. A word of warning, you will get attached to the ones you end up returning and it will tear at your heart every single time. Just remember that your efforts helped to prevent the animal from being gassed.
A Word On Fostering
Fostering may seem like a contradiction to what I said above about having the proper mindset and being prepared to care for the animal you end up bringing home. However, there is a difference between returning an animal because you realized you can’t actually provide for it, and returning an animal because that particular animal may be showing signs of being a danger to your family. As I said before, every animal is different, regardless of breed. There are cases however where you may foster an animal from a rescue organization that has no idea of its history and can only recommend the animal based on its current behavior. There may be new stimuli you are exposing the animal to that the previous fosters didn’t have…which may set the animal off.
In my opinion, returning the animal to the previous fosters / organization is preferable to the alternative, which would be allowing a possibly dangerous situation to escalate to something newsworthy. I’d rather return the animal to see if a better home can be found for it than see it get taken away and possibly gassed for hurting someone in my household. In the end, that would be on ME…not the dog…not my family…ME.
Who Should I Foster From?
Some organizations / rescue leagues who foster are reputable and some aren’t. It’s important to know the signs of ones of the latter so that you can avoid them.
For one, most good ones have an application process and perform background checks. This may seem like a pain in the butt to you, but they are ensuring that the life they are putting in your hands is safe. Granted, some piss poor applicants will fall through the cracks, but more often than not, the people who shouldn’t be pet owners are weeded out. Bonus points if they perform home inspections to see just what kind of situation they are placing the animals in.
Another important thing to know is their turn around time for being able to pickup a pet that is showing signs that they may harm someone in your house. This especially becomes important when you have children. The longer an unstable pet is around children, the greater the risk that something can go wrong. As I said, it’s often not the rescue organization’s fault, it’s just sometimes impossible to predict certain behavior when the animal’s past isn’t totally known. That’s why the ability to foster is there in the first place…so you aren’t stuck with a potentially dangerous animal or one that isn’t a good fit for your home.
It’s important that everyone involved be happy with the new addition to your home, including the animal itself.
Making The Decision
Adopting a pet is no small order, as you may have deduced by all of the above. I’m not dissuading people from adopting an animal, but it is important to know ahead of time whether or not you have the ability and the dedication that goes into the caring for one.
Pets might be lower on the food chain than us humans, but they are people too. They have brains. They have emotions. They have self-awareness. They deserve a fair chance at life, to be happy, and to be treated with respect.
You must be the one to figure out whether or not you have what it takes to care for someone who will be depending on you every waking moment of the day. There’s no harm in admitting that you can’t, but follow through on that and resist the temptation to adopt something “cute”…because that won’t be doing the animal or you any good.
Before you say “yes”, take a good long look at yourself and what you have to offer, and make the right decision.