Adopting a pet is a rewarding experience in giving a good home to what will become a loving companion. There are thousands upon thousands of homeless pets in shelters that need adopting. Several things should be considered before choosing a new pet, such as what level of attention and exercise will the pet need, and will the animal be a good fit for a particular lifestyle. Most behavior problems arise from a lack of socialization and training, and boredom. It is never a good idea to give a pet as a gift, as pet ownership requires a lot of responsibility to which the new owner must be dedicated.
First, it should be decided whether to adopt a cat or a dog. Many people think of themselves as either dog people or cat people, but both make excellent companions. Cats are fairly independent and can be left with fresh water and a litter pan while the owner is at work. Dogs will need to be house trained and walked outside every six hours or so. Both will need adequate play time when the owner is home. A person who works long hours might want to consider a cat for a house pet over a dog. If a dog is adopted, the predominant breed of the dog may help determine the level of activity the dog will require. Working and sporting breeds can develop frustrating behavioral problems if not exercised enough. It is important to consider who will take care of the pet while the owner is away on business trips or vacations.
There are different places from which to adopt a pet. Shelters or pounds have many animals that were previously stray or unwanted. They may have mutts or purebreds. Purebred rescue groups recruit people who are fond of a particular breed of dog or cat to foster homeless pets until they can be adopted out. There will probably be nominal fees associated with adoption to help counter the costs of feeding and sheltering the animals.
A benefit of pet adoption is the option to obtain either a young or mature pet. With cats, their personalities are not fully revealed until adulthood. Adult dogs may come already housetrained, avoiding the accidents in the house during puppyhood. Some people like to adopt pets with special needs that would not otherwise find a home.
Another consideration to make before adopting a new pet is the financial cost. All pets will require vaccinations, spaying or neutering, and good nutrition. Health problems and emergencies can arise down the road for which the owner will be financially responsible. Talk to a veterinarian about the potential costs of pet ownership. Many pets wind up in shelters for this very reason.
If a family has very young children, it may be best to wait on adopting a new dog or cat. The children should be mature enough to understand right and wrong ways to handle a pet. Waiting a few years may avoid a trip to the emergency room with a bitten finger.
Adopting a pet is a life-enriching experience. Dogs and cats provide unconditional love and companionship to their owners. Consider adoption over purchasing an animal from a breeder or a pet store. There are too many pets already that just need good homes.