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Adopting a pet? Read this first

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Are you thinking about adopting a pet? Dogs and cats can bring unconditional love into your home, create fond memories and often help kids learn responsibility. But it’s not something to take lightly. Here are some things to consider before you head to your local shelter.

First step

Don’t adopt a pet on a whim. Make sure you and your family genuinely want – and can care for – a new pet. “Unfulfilled expectations are a leading reason why people give away, abandon or give pets up for adoption, so invest the time and effort to make an informed decision,” the American Veterinary Medical Association says.

Things to think about

Before adopting a pet, talk with your entire family about what’s needed to care for a pet, and who will handle each responsibility. The AVMA has suggestions for your discussion:

  • Ask yourself what you’re looking for in a pet. Do you want a pet that will primarily reside in your lap? Perhaps you’d like a high-energy dog that will go on runs with you. Whatever the case, take into consideration the experience level and caretaking abilities of the person who’ll be primarily responsible for the pet. If you have kids, be realistic about how much responsibility they’ll be able to tackle.
  • If you already own a pet, will a new pet get along with it? Ask your veterinarian for guidance if you’re not sure.
  • Take your living situation into account. If you rent from a landlord, check with them to make sure animal restrictions aren’t in place. In addition, your town, county or state may restrict certain species or breeds of animals, so it’s wise to consult the websites of these entities or call for information before adopting a pet.
  • Can you afford a new pet? Consider the extra costs of food, grooming, housing and veterinary care.
  • Discuss who’ll care for your pet when you’re gone for work trips or on vacation.

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