A new pet can add untold hours of joy to your family and provide you with more unconditional love than you can imagine. But please remember that acquiring a pet is a lifetime commitment and should not be taken lightly.
There are several things to consider before adding a new member to your family:
* Do you want an adult dog or cat or a puppy or kitten?
The amount of time that you will need to spend training your new pet depends greatly on its age. A young puppy will need to be housebroken, and will need to be given the opportunity to relieve itself at least every four hours. Puppies will go through a teething phase, which can mean chewing! Kittens, while more easily housebroken (litter box trained), are full of boundless energy and may release it by climbing up curtains and other household items unless trained not to do so.
* How much time do you spend away from home?
When pets are left alone for long periods of time (more than 8-10 hours) they may display frustration behaviors such as barking, digging and chewing. In addition, if you are frequently away on overnight trips, it will be necessary to have someone care for your pet. Dogs, especially large breeds, need regular exercise. Will you have time in your schedule for a nightly walk?
* Do you have small children?
Are they old enough to interact with a dog or cat responsibly without hurting themselves or the animal?
Remember that the average life span of a dog can be 10-15 years, and that of an indoor cat even longer (up to 20 years). Your pet will need to have regular veterinary care (not to mention veterinary attention for any unforeseen emergencies), a nutritious pet food, toys, a crate (for housebreaking) or litter pan and litter, a pet carrier (for trips in the car) and other miscellaneous supplies. All this can add up. Are you and your budget ready for the additional expense?
* Unforeseen Situations
There's an old saying that the only constant in life is change. At some point, you and your family are bound to be affected by a change in job, location, family status - or perhaps all three! How will this affect your pet? If you are required to move, will you be able to take your pet with you? Are you willing to consider your pet in the re-location process? What if you or another family member becomes allergic to your pet? Do you plan to have children? Do you plan to have more than one pet? What if your pet comes down with a debilitating disease? How will you provide for your pet under these circumstances? Unfortunately, many of the pets in shelters today are there because their previous owners didn't consider these possibilities. Please, before you make your decision, think about it seriously so your pet doesn't become a statistic - once again.