Pet Adoption

by Linda Shapero

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Many families are considering purchasing pets this season. There are several reasons to consider a shelter animal. According to Paul Berry, Best Friends Animal Society Executive Director, 25 years ago, over 17 million animals were being destroyed annually in U.S. shelters! Today, thankfully, that number is down to about five million.

Why should you consider a shelter animal? Here are some reasons:

  • You can save at many shelters who "bundle" other services together with the cost of the pet. For instance, SPCA of Wake County, in Raleigh, North Carolina includes a basic wellness examination, spay/neuter surgery, first vaccinations, microchipping, rabies vaccination and more, all for $95 for a cat or $115 for a dog. These things are not usually included when you buy a dog or cat from other sources.
  • When you adopt an older pet, you get special advantages. These include getting an animal who is housebroken, one who won't destroy your house and clothes, and one who will almost immediately bond with you, who you will be a hero to for saving their life.
  • Looking for a purebred? You'll be happy to know that according to the Humane Society of the United States, 25-30% of dogs found in an average shelter are purebred.
  • You will make everyone happy. Of course, this is true no matter where you get your new best friend; but if you rescue a companion animal, you will be doubly blessed for saving an innocent animal who otherwise might have met an untimely death.

Before you head off to the shelter to pick out your pet, here are a few more things for you to think about:

  • Are you prepared to keep the animal you adopt for life? It is, or should be, a lifetime commitment, and most cats and dogs can live anywhere from 10-20 years or more. Shelters are filled with animals that owners gave up for one reason or another, which should have been thought about before the animal was brought home.
  • Do you have the time to take care of an animal? Living with an animal means not only feeding and walking it, but also taking the time to play with it and make it a part of the family. If you are not ready to do this, nix the idea.
  • Can you afford any health problems that may arise? I have literally paid thousands for the care of my cats who have had conditions ranging from thyroid disease to chronic renal failure. If you are not prepared to pay at best some veterinary expenses, again don't adopt.
  • Consider your living space. If you have your heart set on an English Mastiff but live in a one-room apartment, think again. If you won't be happy with a smaller dog, wait it out until your living situation changes and you have more room.

There are other considerations, as well, but you get the picture. After much thought and planning, you will be able to make a shelter pet very happy when you bring him to his "forever" home.

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