Adopting a pet is a big decision for a family or individual, so it should not be rushed. If you are thinking of adopting a pet for a loved one now, or at any point during the year, keep these important factors in mind:
Where is the pet coming from? Local shelters like the Smithtown Animal Shelter and League for Animal Protection in Huntington are swamped with homeless dogs and cats in need that can provide just as much love and enjoyment as a pet bought from a breeder. There are even rescue groups for small critters, such as rabbits at the Long Island Rabbit Rescue Group or turtles at the Turtle Rescue of Long Island.
Is it the right time? During the holidays, most people are busy running around visiting family and friends, or even going on vacations. If you are thinking of getting a pet for your family, consider waiting until the hectic events die down so that you can focus on caring for the animal.
Does anyone in the home or family have allergies? This is an important question, as it would be the fastest way for a pet to be returned right back to the shelter or store.
Who will take care of the pet? Consider how long the animal will be alone in the house. If you adopt a dog and the adults in the home work during the day while the children are at school, one will need to work out a plan so that the dog will be let out at intervals during the day to relieve itself and get exercise.
Does the home allow for pets? Many apartments have specific rules about owning pets, so be sure to check if they are even allowed to own a pet there. If you are thinking of adopting a dog, consider if the home has a secure, fenced-in yard to let the dog exercise and be sure it will not escape.
Will they have time for obedience training and house manners? Pets do not come with a manual, and the owner will have to be able to have the time (and potentially money) to train the dog or go to training classes. All of their training must be enforced, so be sure the owner will carry out obedience methods.
How large will the pet grow? That cute little puppy might not be little for long. See how large the breed (or mix of breeds) will grow to be, and if that could be a problem with space or small children in the home.
How long will the pet live? Though most dogs and cats live between 10 to 20 years, pets like turtles and tortoises typically live between 30 to 70 years, but some can live upwards of 100 years. Parrots can also live to 30 years, and some species such as African Greys can live over 70 years.
Can they afford the pet? If you feel that you (or those you are giving a pet) are ready to adopt a furry friend, you will need to be able to pay for food, toys, annual veterinary exams, flea control, grooming, training, and unexpected medical costs.
Will they be able to care for a pet in the long run? Puppies and kittens are adorable, but new or irresponsible pet owners may find that the cuteness and novelty will wear off with age.