Considering your family situation usually means taking into account children, small children to be specific. All pets react differently to children. Smaller children, under the age of 8, might see a pet as just another toy to play with - pull the tail, grab the ears, climb on top. A pet may or may not be okay with this. For the safety of the child and the pet, any interaction should be closely monitored by an adult. Promote good habits and pet etiquette with your kids. Pay special attention to any information provided by the rescue organization that references the pet's fear or anxiety around children.
Whether you rent or own your residence, there may be rules in place that specify certain animals are not allowed. Landlords, property managers, HOA's, even municipalities can restrict the types of pets that can live within their domain. Some of these rules may not be specific to a certain type of pet, but to certain characteristics - like dogs over 50 lbs, or outdoor cats. If you rent your home, the property manager will almost certainly require a pet deposit and possibly add a surcharge to your monthly rent. Always check for documented rules and make sure you choose your adoptable pet accordingly. The last thing you want is to bring your new fur friend home, only to find out that your landlord does not allow pit bulls.
Pet allergies are a very common thing. Not sure if you're allergic? Try spending time around other dogs and cats to see if you show any symptoms. The sneezing and itchy eyes will usually become apparent within an hour or two. Allergic reactions to pets can vary in symptoms and degree. Do not assume that you'll adjust or acclimate. Talk to an allergist to see if your symptoms can be managed. In which case, it may be fine to bring a pet into the home. Your allergies may be confined to just dogs, or just cats. In any case, be sure that everyone in the household can tolerate the inevitable pet hair and dander. If even one person in the home is allergic, it might be best to consider other options.
Perhaps the most important consideration when adopting a pet are any special care requirements that come with your new pet. It's not unusual for someone to surrender a pet because they are unwilling, or unable, to provide the proper care. It could be a recurring or long term health issue like weight gain, hearing loss, or blindness. It could also be an emotional issue such as timidness/anxiety, vocalness (persistent barking), or fear of other dogs/cats. It's absolutely vital to understand any special needs that come with your adoption and be prepared to provide that extra bit of care.
These are the pets that truly need a good home, with a good family that can welcome and accept them. A good shelter will make it a point to disclose any special needs that they uncover about your pet. However, not all of these issues become apparent during a shelter stay. Don't let a special need discourage you, if you have the capacity to handle it. There are some very special pets out there that just need a chance, in a good home, with a little bit of extra TLC.
It can be tough not to make an impulsive decision when it comes to adopting a dog or cat. But, it's in everyone's best interest to take a little time to assess your situation and get to know the pet you want to adopt.
Always ask questions about your pet.
You can also request a "meet and greet". This is where you spend a little quality time with your potential fur friend, before you officially adopt. Many shelters will allow you to take the pet to an isolated area, away from the hustle and bustle of the kennel. Use this time to interact and see how compatible you might be. You may even bring one of your existing pets along to see how well they get along, socially. It's a great way for both you and your pet to make that all important first impression. The sooner you now about any possible compatibility issues, the better. If all goes well, you can be that much more confident that you're making the right choice.
How exciting! You're ready to start the adoption process. It's not a difficult procedure, but it's good to know what to expect. We'll cover this topic in our next article, The Adoption Process.