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4 Overlooked Things To Consider Before Adopting A Pet

Veterinarian Reviewed by Dr. Janice Huntingford, DVM on February 13, 2018
Posted in Cats

Pet adoption rates are on the rise, largely thanks to a younger generation that may very well be more excited about having pets than human children. Their tendency to treat pets like legitimate family members is often criticized but it has unquestionably exposed how rewarding pet ownership can be and increased the appeal of owning a dog or cat. These days, the desire for a pet appears to be almost as widespread as the desire for a human romantic partner.

The downside of this cultural shift is that some people want pets so badly that they forget pet ownership is only reserved for those who are qualified for the task. They run the risk of having their hearts broken when the animal shelter tells them their application has been rejected. Pet ownership isn’t for everybody, so those who are considering adoption should make sure they are qualified before they start shopping.

Here are four things to keep in mind if you are looking to adopt a pet:

1. Annual Costs

Last spring, a report from the Peoples Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) found that approximately 98% of dog and cat owners had grossly underestimated the cost of owning a pet throughout its lifetime. According to PDSA calculations, owning a dog can cost anywhere from $27,074 to $42,545 compared to $21,917 to $30,942 for a cat. These numbers account for leashes, food, toys, cat litter, grooming, initial vaccinations, and spaying or neutering. Excluded from the calculations were unexpected trips to the vet as well as pet insurance, which can run anywhere from $10 to $90 per month. Costs can vary based on breed but a 2016 article from the American Kennel Club claims that over the course of 12 years, a small-to-medium sized breed will cost around $2,300 per year.

This annual cost was calculated under the assumption that the pet was adopted and not purchased from a shop. The latter choice is usually significantly more expensive thanks to the cost of acquiring the pet and the higher likelihood of health problems. Aspiring pet owners who are unsure about costs should examine the checklists published by numerous animal welfare groups outlining all the basic expenses that come with dogs and cats.

2. Commitments To Your Job

Different shelters have different requirements for adoption. For some, the amount of hours an applicant works per week can be a deal-breaker. About a year and a half ago, Matthew Bershadker, president of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, was rejected for adoption because he worked long hours. Bershadker told the Washington Post that the decision shocked him because he assured the shelter that he had a daytime dog walker lined up and could offer the dog plenty of space to play.

Such shelters likely favor applicants who work from home. Nathan and Rebekah Patin were reportedly rejected in 2015 due to their work hours even though they are typically away from home for six hours a day at most. “It was frustrating,” Rebekah recalled.

3. Will Your Pet Have Enough Space?

Applications for medium-to-large breed dogs may be rejected if the shelters concludes that there isn’t sufficient room for the pet to run around outside. They likely would not allow a labrador to be adopted by someone without a yard that is both sizable as well as enclosed. The second factor is just as crucial as the first, since someone with a big yard could still be rejected if the area lacks a fence.

4. It Might Not Be Easy

As joyous as pet ownership can be, it is never easy. The early stages are often the hardest, and this begins with the adoption process. You have to be prepared for a rocky road that may turn out to be a lot longer than anticipated. Donna Darrel, founder of Pounds Hounds ResQ, says her organization’s application process is deliberately tedious to weed out applicants who aren’t as passionate about this endeavor than they thought.

Bershadker was rejected twice because he was looking for a dog with numerous specific qualities (older, good with kids, good with other animals). Some aspiring owners are forced put their original goals to bed in favor of a more sensible decision. The Patin’s first choice was a French Bulldog but ended up with a Chihuahua who instantly bonded with the family.

Despite all the potential roadblocks you may encounter, any longtime pet owner will tell you that it is worth every headache and misstep. If you are willing endure whatever it takes you adopt, you are most likely a perfect candidate for a lucky dog or cat.

Read also: Sassy overcomes cat kidney disease

Our Expert

Dr. Janice Huntingford
Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan

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