By Jim Tedford, Director of Animal Welfare Initiatives and Alliances
I saw a t-shirt recently that read: “Whoever said ‘money can’t buy love’ never had a dog!” There is definitely some truth to that statement. The fee you might pay to adopt a new best friend is likely some of the best money you’ll ever spend. However, the decision to acquire a new pet involves far more than whether or not you can cover the initial cost of adoption. Indeed, a pet involves an investment of your time as well as your money. If your new pet is a dog or cat, you are looking at a 12-15 year commitment…maybe even longer if you’re lucky.
So, before you make the decision to acquire ANY pet, take a look at your lifestyle and consider the following:
Time — Are there enough hours in your day to properly care for a pet? The time commitment extends beyond basic care (cleaning and feeding) to socialization and exercise…QUALITY TIME!
Money — Are you prepared for the financial burdens of pet ownership including food, proper housing, health care (including the occasional astronomical emergency veterinary bill), training, and boarding when you are away?
Lifestyle — Do you know where you will be living in 15 years? Are you willing to make a commitment to something that will be completely dependent upon you for the duration of its life? Are you prepared to take the bad along with the good? Or would your first reaction to problems be to “get rid” of the pet?
The Future– Is there a chance that you’ll consider a major lifestyle change that might make keeping a pet more challenging? What will happen to your pets if you get married? Move cross-country? Have kids? Take a job that requires extensive travel? None of these major life events would necessarily prevent you from being a good pet owner, but it’s important to have a plan in mind for how your pets fit in. Don’t forget the first commitment you made!
Once you have realistically answered these questions and are ready to commit to a pet, it is time to decide which type of pet best suits your lifestyle. If you work long or irregular hours, a dog who needs to be taken outside for exercise and to relieve himself may be the wrong pet for you. However, there are terrific solutions like a PetSafe Passport Door and an in-ground containment system that can let your pets out into a secure area at the pre-programmed time of your choosing. Or, perhaps you work in a pet-friendly office like mine and can take Fido to the office with you!
If you are unwilling to clean a litter pan, a cat is out of the question. But, PetSafe has an array of waste management solutions including Scoop Free litter boxes to make the task much neater and simpler.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been accused of being a “puppy pusher,” so I certainly do not mean to focus on the possible down sides of pet ownership. The rewards can be great! But only when the commitment is great. Like most other worthwhile ventures in life, pet ownership carries with it a great deal of responsibility. Think of it as an investment. By giving of your time and resources you get a lifetime of unconditional love. Now that I think about it, the return on my investment in my dogs is far greater than the return on my IRA these days!