10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Adopting

(Courtesy of ASPCA)

Congratulations! You’ve taken your first step toward responsible pet ownership. 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 ensure your lifestyle is compatible with 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 determine the species and breed that will fit your lifestyle.

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. You must also consider arrangements for your pet’s care should you no longer be able to provide it. If circumstances change, will your pet still have the care he needs?

3. What kind of pet is right for you?

A pets’ activity level, size, age, breed and temperament should be considered to determine what pet is best for your household. FHS uses the ASPCA’s Meet Your Match program, a method which evaluates an animal’s behavior and interests, and matches them to an adopter’s lifestyle and preferences so that you take home a pet you can really click with.  Our Enrichment Coordinator and Adoption Counselors are here to answer your questions and assist you in the process.

 4. Can you afford to care for your pet’s health and safety?

Owning a dog or cat will cost more than the initial adoption fee. Food, regular veterinary care, unexpected medical issues, and proper identification—that means a collar with tags and a more permanent form of ID such as microchipping—can add up.

5. Will you be able to spend quality time together?

Dogs thrive on several hours of exercise and companionship every day, and pooches constantly left alone can develop behavioral problems. Puppies need extra time for housetraining and proper socialization. Cats are healthiest and happiest indoors and many enjoy attention and energetic play sessions with their human families. Some pets require regular grooming. If your work demands frequent travel, or if you’re out of the house most days and evenings, this may not be the right time to adopt.

6. Are you prepared to deal with an animal’s health challenges?

Fleas, allergies and other more sudden or serious issues are just a few of the health problems that pet owners may face. Will you have the time and money to care for your pet if he gets sick?

7. Are you willing to train your animal companion?

Lack of training is one of the most common reasons that adopters return pets to shelters—are you willing to work on behavior problems? Consider that furniture or other items may be damaged by a new pet who is merely expressing natural instincts. Basic training helps dogs and their owners communicate better, strengthening the relationship overall. And taking the time to learn why your cat does what she does especially when it involves her litter box and scratching habits, will help you avoid potential problems.

8. Are you prepared to pet-proof your home?

Whether it’s tightly sealing your garbage cans or paying attention to dangerous holiday decorations, you’ll need to make your home safe before adopting. That includes keeping toxic foods, pet-unfriendly plants and other dangerous household items out of paw’s reach, especially around holiday season.

9. Is your living space adequate for an animal companion?

Choose an animal who will thrive in your home. If you’re attracted to energetic large-breed dogs, but live in a small apartment, will your pooch have enough room? If you live on a noisy street, will it disturb your cat? Many landlords don’t allow pets or place restrictions on having them. Pets often end up in shelters when they are discovered in no-pets-allowed residences, so be sure to research and comply with “house rules” before adopting.

10. Is your family ready for a pet?

If your kids are very young, you might consider waiting a few years before adopting, as pet ownership is ideally a team effort. Children who are mature enough can happily share pet-care duties. You may also have another pet at home and although it’s easy to assume your dog or cat needs a friend to “perk them up”, be prepared to closely monitor a gradual introduction and what may be a lengthy adjustment period. Most will learn to co-exist, but some pets will never accept a newcomer.

Thank you for considering this information. Remember, your adopted pet will be depending on you to make the right decision!