Friday, May 30, 2008

How to decide if you are ready for a pet

The article I read that is linked to the title reminded me that many people want a new pet after they graduate from college, get their first job, lose a pet, or have children leave home. Our lifestyles and work hours are more demanding than ever before, so there are many things to consider.

A key point in this article is that students may have always had a pet at home, but they may not have had the total responsibility and the expenses of food and regular veterinary care. In addition, a young mobile person may not have a stable lifestyle that allows them to commit to caring for a pet for the rest of the pet's life, which may be anywhere from 2 years to 20+ years depending on the species they choose.

Long work hours are another problem. There is a saying in some industries "55 to survive". It means the workers are expected to put in 55 hours a week just to keep their jobs. Then, there is also the problem of job instability and potential layoffs. Hundreds of pets are losing their homes and their lives in shelters because the owners lost their homes and jobs. It's important to have a backup plan for the pet's long-term care if you anticipate military service, heavy travel, or other significant changes that may affect your ability to care for a pet. Pets are living, feeling beings. They area not disposable. They deserve a caregiver that is committed to them for the rest of their life.

Here are some of the key questions to answer.

1. Are you ready to make a commitment to be responsible for another life for years, even if it means making compromises in your lifestyle when they need medical care or time that interferes with your social life or job choices?

2. Are you financially prepared? Have you researched the cost of food, shelter, average annual veterinary care, and other expenses such as a pet walker or day care if you work long hours and can't get home during the day? Dogs can't sit in an apartment or crate alone for 12 hours a day. It's cruel to expect them not to have to go potty or have companionship day after day. They are a pack animal. So if this is your situation, consider an animal that is more active at night and sleeps during the day--like a hamster, gerbil, guinea pig, etc.

3. Do you have roommates or other pets that must be considered? If you get a cat and your spouse or roommate is allergic, that will be a disaster for both of you--not to mention the dissension it will cause in the relationship. If there are others in your life, they must be included in this decision. If you have children, don't expect that they will be the primary caregiver no matter what they say. Animals are not an experiment or responsibility teaching too. Plant a garden instead. You must also know that an adult will be present and have time to supervise animal and child interaction for the safety of both. If you aren't willing to do so, don't get a pet.

There are more specific questions and ideas for various species and living situations. There is also a fun video link about preparing for pets on my website.

Helping people choose pets and make decisions about their readiness and the type of pet that suits their lifestyle is one of the things I do almost daily in my business. I can do it online as well as in person, and I love to help people make a successful match. If we discover a person isn't ready for such a huge commitment, that's OK. If we find a lovely pocket pet with a shorter life expectancy than 20 years, that's wonderful. I've saved a life either way.


MyPetChannel Philippines said...

Great list of considerations for pet owners! :-) I think pet ownership is a serious responsibility, and beyond the financial considerations and whether or not your housemates or your landlord will allow pets, it's your own personal commitment which will matter most in the end. Owning a pet it truly a serious responsibility, but it also has its equal rewards. In fact, I'd say the fun and fulfillment it offers is priceless.

Dog Breeds said...

good article, i really don't know if i am ready for a pet, i really want a dog, but maybe i will have to wait a bit longer