Around 6.5 million pets arrive in American shelters every year, with 1.5 million of these sadly euthanized as they are unable to be housed. Having a pet is a big commitment, one which might come as a shock to some families who may not be prepared for the level of care and attention a pet needs. How can you and your family decide on whether you are ready to keep a pet?
Have You Researched Your Pet?
Is your chosen pet suitable to keep with children in the house? If you have chosen a dog, what breeds will fit in with your lifestyle? Many breeds of dog require more attention, exercise and food than others so, depending on your home and employment circumstances, you may need a pet that is lower maintenance, such as a cat or a rabbit. You also have to consider how often they will need to be fed, walked, taken for medical check ups and how often someone will be home to take care of them. In some circumstances, a puppy or kitten may not be a great idea due to the level of training and care they require.
Is Your Home Environment Suitable?
Having a pet has been shown to be educational for kids, giving them more knowledge of biology than children without a pet. Pets have also been shown to make children less anxious and withdrawn showing that a pet can greatly benefit a family with kids. However, is your home environment, including the people in it, suitable for the pet? Consider the wellbeing of the animal; will it have enough space to be comfortable? Do you have a garden to allow it some exercise when you are unable to make it out? Does your choice of pet mix well with kids? Having a dog as a pet can be like having another child so some of your child proofing equipment and practises will work well to make the home safe for an animal.
Is it Affordable?
One thing that many families do not take into consideration is the cost of a pet. Although the everyday costs for food and maintenance are relatively low, there may be additional expenses that many people do not take into account. Have you prepared a fund or considered pet insurance in the event your pet falls ill or has an underlying condition? The animal may have to be neutered and have regular medical check ups on top of this. According to the ASPCA, the average cost of having a dog in the first year exceeds $1000 so work this into your annual budget to ensure it is affordable.
Many dogs, cats and other companion animals are left without a home each year so a shelter is a good place to start when looking for a family pet. The staff here will also be able to advise of their temperament to ensure that it is suitable to keep with children in the house.