Falling in love with a pet is easy and pet ownership can be very rewarding. Adopting a pet, however, is a big decision. Dogs, cats, and rabbits require a lot of time, money, and commitment—over 15 years' worth in many cases. OHS encourages you to think through your decision before you adopt a companion animal.
Things to Consider
Because you are considering adoption from an animal shelter (such as the Oregon Humane Society) we know you are a responsible and caring person. Here are some things to consider before you make that decision to bring a furry friend into your life:
- Why do you want a pet? It's amazing how many people do not ask themselves this simple question. Adopting a pet just because it's "the thing to do" or the children have been wanting (and nagging) for a puppy can lead to a big mistake. This is a lifelong commitment (10, 15, even 20 years).
- Do you have time for a pet? Dogs, cats, and other animal require food, water, exercise, care, and companionship every day of every year. Many animals in the shelter are there because their owners didn't realize how much time it took to care for them.
- Can you afford a pet? The costs of pet ownership can be quite high. Licenses, training classes, spaying and neutering (provided as part of adopting from OHS), veterinary care, grooming, toys, food, kitty litter, and other expenses add up quickly.
- Are you prepared to deal with special problems that a pet can cause? Flea infestations, scratched-up furniture, accidents from animals who aren't yet housetrained, and unexpected medical emergencies are unfortunate but common aspects of pet ownership.
- Can you have a pet where you live? Pets may not be allowed at many rental communities or they may have restrictions. Make sure you know what they are before you bring a companion animal home.
- Is it a good time for you to adopt a pet? If you have children under six years old, for instance, you might consider waiting a few years before you adopt a companion. Pet ownership requires children who are mature enough to be responsible. If you're a student, in the military, or travel frequently as part of your work, waiting until you settle down is wise.
- Are your living arrangements suitable for the animal you have in mind? Animal size is not the only variable to think about here. For example, some small dogs such as terriers are very active—they require a great deal of exercise to be calm and often bark at any noise. On the other hand, some big dogs are laid back and quite content to lie on a couch all day. Before adopting, do some research. That way, you'll choose an animal who will fit into your lifestyle and your living arrangements.
- Do you know who will care for your pet while you're away on vacation? You'll need either reliable friends and neighbors or money to pay for a boarding kennel or pet-sitting service.
- Will you be a responsible pet owner? Having your pet spayed or neutered, obeying community leash and licensing laws, and keeping identification tags on your pets are all part of being a responsible owner. Of course, giving your pet love, companionship, exercise, a healthy diet, and regular veterinary care are other essentials.
- Finally, are you prepared to keep and care for the pet for his or her entire lifetime? When you adopt a pet, you are making a commitment to care for the animal for his or her lifetime.
Get an animal for life
Sure, it's a long list of questions. However, a quick stroll through an animal shelter will help you understand why answering them before you adopt is so important.
Many of the shelter's homeless animals are adolescent dogs and cats, who were obtained by people who didn't think through the responsibilities of pet ownership before they got the animal.
Make the right choice. Think before
you adopt. Sharing your life with a companion animal can bring incredible rewards when you're willing to make the necessary commitments of time, money, responsibility, and love—for the life of the pet. And don’t worry about the animals