01 Dec Finding a New Pet
With the holidays fast-approaching, your family might be considering a pet as a Christmas gift this season. There are many deserving pets out there who love to have a “furr-ever” home. The important thing to remember, though, is the long term commitment to owning a pet. Consider the following from our IVMA summer intern and 2nd year veterinary student, Ashley Mealey.
When I first walked into a shelter I was overwhelmed. Maybe it was the loudness that overcame me or perhaps it was the flood of emotions that I felt. As I shifted through the stark concrete floor kennel, dogs rushed to the front of their cage- some barking and others nervously wiggling. All of them waiting. Waiting for the day that someone would take them to a deserving home.
I was only a volunteer at the time and not even searching for a pet. As I glanced between each kindly worded description, I began to question how anyone could do it. How could someone searching for a pet decide? I mean this is a life-altering decision for them, their family, and the animal.
Since that day I have bared witness to dozens (dare I say hundreds) of adoptions. Each and every one was an incredibly joyous occasion. That was until somewhere down the road, that one-time happy family slunked back to return their precious pet. It just didn’t work out, they’d say. The dog grew too big, peed on the rug, or chewed up the new coffee table. Maybe their kids were allergic or the new dog didn’t get along with their other pets. Whatever the reason, that dog was destined to return back to its life of waiting.
Every time I saw a return it was heartbreaking. One thing I convinced myself of was that it was never the pet’s fault. I believe that adopting a pet is like adding a puzzle piece to a jigsaw that was started years ago. It has to be the right fit (and by no means forced). Those families that brought back their adoptions simply did not choose the right piece.
If you are thinking about adding a loveable furry friend to your family, consider the following questions to ensure you’ve found a match.
1. What size pet is right for my household?
2. Do I mind shedding? Am I worried about allergies?
3. What type of energy level can I handle?
4. Do I have time to train the pet?
5. Does the animal need to be good around kids? Other pets?
6. Do I have the resources to care for this pet’s medical needs?
7. How much will the pet cost over its lifetime?
8. What are my expectations of the pet?
Once you have answered these questions and done some research, it’s time to start looking. Many times you can look at pets from the comfort of your own home. Most shelters have websites that feature their adoptable pets and describe a little bit about them. You can also check sites such as Petfinder to help broaden your search. When you are on these sites make sure not to become trapped in the pitfall of choosing the cutest animal. Sure puppies are cute, but are you ready for an actual baby in your house?
When you’ve narrowed the search, it’s time to visit the shelters. Nothing compares to actually meeting the animal. Bring the ENTIRE family and allow everyone to play. Watch to see how the pet responds to you and you respond to the pet. Also ask the shelter if you are allowed to bring your other pets for a meet and greet. If this is not a possibility, ask if they have tested the animal to see how it gets along with other cats/dogs.
You should also ask the shelter staff about the animals that you are most interested in. They have worked with some of these animals for weeks, months, and maybe even years. They have a lot of insight and can direct you, based on your needs.
Once you’ve done the research-GO SIGN THE PAPERWORK. Don’t let that amazing pet slip away from you if it is the right fit. Nothing is more rewarding than giving something a loving home. And as always, once you’ve adopted get your new addition checked out by your veterinarian!