Get off to a good start with your new family member

Choosing the Right Pet for Your Family

by Lee Doppelt

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According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), 3.2 millions shelter pets will be adopted this year, about half dogs and half cats. That's a lot of pets, and that statistic only includes the animals from shelters and not from private parties, pet stores, or breeders. Perhaps your family has decided to adopt a dog, cat, or some other pet.

Is your family ready for a new pet?

You have calculated the cost of getting the pet, immunizations, medical expenses, food, city licenses, toys, supplies, and the typically expensive cost to board your pet if your family travels. You have also delegated which family members will be responsible for each of the tasks to care for your new pet. Who will walk the dog and clean up after it? Who will feed the dog? Who will bathe it? Who will change or clean the kitty litter, the bird cage, or the fish aquarium? Your next step is to determine what type of pet to get, where you will get your newest family member, and what sort of rules will be established, such as where will your pet sleep.

How do you find the right pet and breed?

Get online and use the keywords "find the right pet" and you will see several helpful websites like,,, and Visit a neighborhood pet store and ask questions. Take a trip to the humane society or other nearby shelter and see what pets are available.

Ask friends and family members who have pets what things they like and dislike about the pet they have. They may love their Springer Spaniel but hate the fact that it has long hair and sheds all over their clothing and upholstered furniture. They may enjoy their cuddly kitten, but they hate that it has essentially ruined the sofas by clawing the sides of the fabric, using it as a sort of scratching post.

You want a pet with a temperament that is appropriate for your family. A more aggressive breed may be desired if a watch dog is what you are looking for or maybe you want a dog that is especially good with children. If your home or yard is relatively small, perhaps a smaller breed like a poodle or terrier is right for you.

Where can you get a pet?

There are several ways to find a pet to adopt. Perhaps you know someone locally who has a pet they can no longer care for because the person is too sick or too old or is moving to place that does not allow pets. Possibly you have seen an advertisement somewhere for a pet. Your pet store is another good place to begin the pet adoption process.

You can also visit your local humane society or animal shelter. These places typically have a website that shows current available pets and spells out their adoption process. One Central Illinois county humane society charges an adoption fee of about $150 for puppies and lesser amounts for other pets. With that comes an initial medical exam, coupons for food, and other perks. Neutering and spaying are additional charges. They say that the adoption fee covers the cost to have housed the animal until adoption. Some shelters will allow you to have the pets visit your home or even stay there a few nights to "test" if that specific pet is a good fit for your family and your home.

If there is a particular breed of pet that you want, such as a greyhound dog, search online for rescue shelters for that particular breed.

A pet can be a wonderful addition to a family and a great experience for children of any age to learn the responsibility of caring for another living creature. It can also be the perfect antidote for a lonely heart, especially for older adults or people who live alone. Be diligent, however, in taking your time to find the right pet for you. It is a huge commitment and can become a rather unpleasant experience if you end up with the wrong pet, such as a cat that scratches and bites or a dog that is aggressive. Therefore, take your time in every step of the pet adoption process.

Take the Next Step:

  • Don't let your pets take such a bite out of your budget! The Dollar Stretcher's Guide to Frugal Pet Care can show you smart ways to love your pet while spending less.
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  • Stop overpaying for your pet's medications. See how much 1-800-PetMeds can help you save.
  • It's tough raising kids today! You need every time and money saving idea you can find. That's why you'll want to get our free weekly Dollar Stretcher for Parents newsletter. You'll find great ideas designed just for parents that will help your family 'live better...for less'! Subscribers get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE.

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