A GUIDE TO RESPONSIBLE PET OWNERSHIP
So you are thinking about adding a new fur baby to your family and may even have found just the cutest pet you think would be perfect for you.
Pets are wonderful! They provide us with companionship, an exercise buddy, a bed warmer, unconditional love and so many more things which enrich our lives, but there are a few things you need to consider before you invite a pet to join your family.
If you live in a tiny unit it is fair to say a Great Dane may not be the best choice for you, and a working dog such as a Kelpie, Border collie or Blue Heeler may become destructive and suffer anxiety if kept in a suburban backyard without a substantial amount of extra exercise, but a cuddly cat, frisky ferret or a slithering snake may be just the perfect pet for you.
No matter what your living arrangements there is a companion to suit you.
• Renting? Will your Landlord allow pets?
• Does your pet need to live outside or inside?
• Do you have a suitable enclosure/cage?
• Is your yard securely fenced?
• How much room will you need to meet your pet’s mental and physical health requirements?
• Will your pet affect the neighbours? ie Roosters crowing, Dog barking?
Available time to devote to pet
Realistically evaluating how much spare time you can devote to your pet will also help you decide which pet might suit your lifestyle best.
Initially most people will spend a lot of time with their new pet, but things normalize after a while and life gets in the way of even our very best intentions. Consider how it would affect your pet if you were no longer able to spend as much time with them.
Some animals need more human interaction than others. If you know that your free time is limited and you travel, work away or generally lead a very busy life consider your choice of pet wisely so you can both live happy fulfilled lives.
Financial ability to provide for needs
The purchase price is only the start of your financial responsibility toward your pet.
Setting up fencing, cages, yards, bedding, toys/mental enrichment, food and water equipment must also be calculated, as well as ongoing feeding costs.
Then there are regular Vet checks, vaccinations, medications, flea and worming products, and of course the dreaded emergency treatments. Work out your budget and calculate how much you can realistically contribute to the ongoing costs of pet ownership, and consider if you can provide necessary health care required to keep your pet healthy and happy for the life of the pet.
Pet insurance is a great way to prepare for any emergency treatments, and some companies will also provide funds to cover basic health care as well.
Do you have plans to travel, move oversees, move interstate, or start a family? These things also need to be considered when deciding which pet would suit you best, or if you should bring a pet into your life at all at this time.
Many pets are offered for re-homing, or euthanased because of a change in the owner’s life. If you know a pet won’t fit into your long term plans please consider other options for bringing pet enrichment into your life. Animal shelters are always looking for foster carers, both short term and long term which allows you to bring much needed joy and stability to a pet in need, while not tying yourself to a permanent pet of your own.
The type of pet is not the only consideration when choosing the best pet for you and your family, the personality of the pet should also match.
Just like us pets can be timid and shy, or loud and confident, and anything in between. Choosing a shy animal when you live in a very loud busy household can overwhelm an animal, and can often trigger antisocial problems such as biting, scratching and inappropriate toileting.
Choosing temperament over colour or type is much more important to ensuring a good fit within your family, and will minimize the chance of problems in the future.
So you have assessed your Housing, Finances, Time, Future plans and decided on which temperament will suit your family/situation. You have considered everything and finally made an informed decision on which pet will suit you best, so the next question is where do you go to buy your new companion?
1. Animal shelter/Rescue organization
There are many rescue organizations, usually overflowing with loving animals just looking for their furever home. These pets are not rejects, or second rate, they are merely animals who have been discarded because someone did not take the time to assess their situation and make an informed decision about the type of pet to buy.
These animals are Vet checked, vaccinated, de-sexed and micro-chipped where applicable, and they have been assessed for temperament.
The purchase price contributes toward the initial cost of these treatments, but often does not cover the entire costs. These not for profit organizations depend on volunteers, fundraising and donations to stay open.
2. Reputable registered breeder
A good breeder will have their breeding animals tested for disease, genetic and physical disorders, and will be able to provide potential buyers with proof of testing. Young will be vet checked and have had their first vaccination where applicable. They will also be well socialized and have been fed a nutritious diet. The parent animals will have been carefully selected and bred at an appropriate age, and not over-bred throughout their lives.
Although you may have to go on a waiting list, the benefits of buying from a Registered breeder make it worth while.
3. Pet shop
Pet shops often buy their animals from back yard breeders or puppy farms.
Backyard breeders are not regulated, and there is no guarantee the parent animals are of good stock and are healthy with no genetic or physical problems. These breeders often breed their animals repeatedly in an effort to earn money, with no consideration to the health of the parent animals. There is also no guarantee the animal will be the breed stated, or that they don’t have medical conditions which will ultimately end up costing the new owners a small fortune in vet bills.
Take the time to consider your options carefully, research your choices, and make an informed decision before bringing a pet into your lives.