This month’s blog is contributed by Donna Crock, a Cheyenne Animal Shelter Board member who serves on the Education Committee.

Are you considering adopting a pet or an animal companion? Congratulations! You’ll be in for an exciting and fun time which can change your life for better (or for worse if you’re not fully prepared!). We bet that you cannot wait to have another family member. But, are you truly ready to adopt and do you know the right pet for your lifestyle?

The reason why some pet adoptions do not go well is due to unrealistic expectations and lack of research.  Here is a list of 10 things you should consider before adopting a pet as part of your family.  Yes, they are part of your family from the day they come to your home and you are responsible for their welfare for their entire lifetime.

#1 – Reasons for Adopting
Have you asked yourself why you want a pet?  Is it for the sole reason they are cute or you want to surprise a family member?  Is it to offer a good home or to have some companionship? If you want to adopt an animal for companionship, you will want to look for a pet that isn’t too independent. Do you want a dog that can go on long walks, or do you want a cuddle buddy on the couch? Do any of your family members have health issues related to animal allergies? There are some dogs who are hypoallergenic. Be sure to research those breeds ahead of time.

Matching a pet with your lifestyle and personality makes for a more successful adoption. If you want to surprise a family member who wants a dog, a cat or any other animal, you should also consider how ready that person is to take care of that animal physically, emotionally, and financially.  Do not adopt a pet to teach a life lesson, or just because the pet is cute, or you feel sorry for it.

#2 – How much Available Time do you have?
You must consider how much time you have to care for an animal on a daily basis.  Any type of pet takes up some of your time! Once you have a pet, you must consider who will take care of it during vacations or last minute weekend getaways. Do you have arrangements for a pet sitter or have you researched kennels in the area?

#3 – Reality vs. Fantasy
What are your expectations? Do you expect that the pet you are planning to adopt will suddenly make your social life more entertaining?  Whatever your expectations are, envision life with a pet before you actually adopt. Not all pets fit what you have in mind.  The key is to know what your expectations are and share those with the group you are adopting from so they can help find you the best possible match.

#4 – Responsibility = Emotional, Physical and Financial
Can you handle losing a loved one – such as your four-legged family member?  Are you prepared to explain to a young child why your beloved pet is no longer part of the family? How would you cope if you have to give the pet up for some reason?  There will be times when the animal may not be so cooperative or nice.  Are you prepared for a new puppy or even an adult pet chewing up your couch or having accidents on your carpet? Are you able to train a dog or hire someone to break them of any bad habits? Are you consistently able to provide exercise, discipline and affection?

Once you get an animal, you have to be responsible for it at all times, for the animal’s entire life.  Are you prepared to pay for essentials such as food, treats, pet beds and toys as well as annual veterinary exams, medical treatment and emergency bills?

If you get a puppy or kitten, it will costs hundreds of dollars in their first six months for spay/neuter and the series of vaccinations. One of the benefits of getting a dog or cat (at any age) from the Shelter is the adoption fee includes all of this and the medical care has already been handled by the clinical staff. For more detailed information, refer to this article on the annual cost of pet ownership: https://www.moneyunder30.com/the-true-cost-of-pet-ownership.

#5 – Type of Animal to Adopt
Do you have a breed or animal in mind?  Do you have financial or space restrictions?  How many hours are you away from the house per day? Do you have an active or sedentary lifestyle? Have you considered a senior pet? They are less active, housetrained, and make loyal and loving companions.   Do you have the time for a puppy, the training, and all that comes with it? Do you have kids? Do you have other dogs or pets in the house? You must consider all of this when adopting a new pet. At the Cheyenne Animal Shelter, animals undergo behavioral assessments and we try to match pets the best we can with interested parties. Whatever pet you choose, be sure to give yourself, your family, your other pets and the new animal time to adjust.

#6 – Animals and Training
Will the animal need training? Most dogs will need some training when they come into your home. Even cats can come to you needing to be litterbox trained.  This is a very good question to consider before adopting a pet. How about the pet’s age? Are you prepared to modify your home a bit to accommodate a puppy or an aging pet?  Are you prepared to hire someone to address your pet’s needs?

#7 – Space and Location
Some pets need a lot of space even though they are small.  Some dogs need a lot of room to roam, but others do well even in a one bedroom apartment with an occasional visit to the park.  Consider the breed before adoption and research the breed’s activity requirements.

#8 – Current and Future Financial Situation
Are you financially prepared to adopt an animal?  Pets can cost a lot of money depending on type, breed, age, and medical condition.  Consider seriously your financial ability to care for a pet in the worst situation. Emergencies can happen.  Have you thought about how you will keep the pet if your financial situation changes? It’s a good idea to check into pet insurance or set up a savings account just for your pet’s needs. A good basis is setting aside at least $100/month for medical costs and boarding and make sure to include pet food, treats, toys, beds, and grooming, etc. expenses into your monthly household budget. For medical emergencies, Care Credit is another option if you find yourself in this situation. Vet clinics can set up the account and there are various options for payment plans which include no interest charged if the bill is paid in full by a certain number of months.

For overall pet care costs, as a reference, view the ASPCA’s financial breakdown chart: https://www.aspca.org/sites/default/files/pet_care_costs.pdf.

#9 – Living with the Animal for a Lifetime
Having a pet is a LONGTERM commitment, not to be done on impulse, or to be done as a gift for a friend or relative who isn’t fully prepared.  Make sure everyone in the family agrees 100%.   If not everyone agrees it can cause unnecessary stress on the pet and the family.  We want you to have a forever home for your pet.   Returning a dog after adoption is a difficult task and can be hard on everyone in the family including the pet.

#10 – Do Your Research
How much research have you done? Not doing enough research is one of the top reasons why animals are surrendered.   Research the pros and cons about the pet you are getting such as the breeds’ needs, grooming, common health issues, temperament, energy level and how well-suited they are with children, if applicable. Ask for the most current medical history.  Ask if the animal is spayed or neutered, and microchipped. All the dogs and cats available at the Cheyenne Animal Shelter are fixed and microchipped prior to adoption. In addition, they have been evaluated for medical and behavioral issues.

Whenever you choose to get your next pet, please keep in mind these 10 considerations to help secure a more successful adoption. You’ll be glad you did!

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