Should I adopt a pet?

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Should I adopt a pet?

Adopting a pet seems like a great idea: pets bring us joy, and it feels great rehoming an animal in need. But first consider if you are in it for the longterm. Responsible pet ownership requires patience, time and money, so carefully weigh this up before taking the leap and adopting a dog or cat. 

Should I adopt a pet during the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown?

During the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown, there has been a massive increase in pet adoption from shelters and rescue organisations, attributed to more people working from home and staying indoors. Many people crave the comfort and companionship f a cat or dog, and want a furry friend to distract from the stress of what is happening. 

This is great on one hand: many animals now have permanent homes. But it raises some concerns, as these adopted pets will need to be cared for well beyond the lockdown and the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Why is adopting a pet such a big deal?

Pet ownership has changed a lot in the past decades, and legislation and common law reflect this change. 

Though most of us have always loved pets, society has moved away from the old view of a dog or cat as a cute possession that needs feeding and the occasional vet visit. 

Instead, animals are increasingly understood to be sentient beings that have a right to real love, comfort and care. This has already been legislated in some countries, such as New Zealand, and we will see more laws like this as our collective empathy for animals increases.

As such, pets are now often described as members of the family (with terms like ‘furkid’, ‘furbaby’ and ‘pet parent’ often used). It just isn’t responsible to leave a family member alone all day while you go to work, which might not seem a likely scenario now, but coronavirus restrictions won’t last forever. And you need to think ahead to this before adopting. 

Why shouldn’t I adopt a pet?

Dogs and cats need far more than the basics of feeding, watering and medical care: they need you to provide a balanced diet, training, socialisation, stimulation, exercise, medical care, a clean environment, love and regular attention.

Owning a pet costs money. Think of food, bedding, toys, grooming, vet visits, medication and pet sitting when you go on holidays or back to work.

Owning a pet changes your lifestyle.

  • If you have to move house or need to apply for a rental property, you will need to factor your pet into where you live, which may narrow down your options.
  • If you have kids or are planning on having them eventually, you will need to consider their safety around your pet and vice versa.
  • If you fancy a night out and want to stay at a friend's place, you won't be able to make a last-minute decision: will need to plan ahead so that your pet can be cared for.

You can't ever skip caring for your pet because you are busy, tired or don't feel like it: this just isn't an option. But this is also one of the great things about owning a pet: they will indeed get you up and about, which can encourage a healthy daily routine. It just depends on if you feel ready for this. 

If you think you can’t comfortably provide all of this for the entire lifespan of a pet (and remember that cats and dogs often live beyond 15 years!), then you should reconsider adopting.

You shouldn't adopt a cat or dog if you can't provide proper care

What is fostering a pet?

Fostering is temporarily caring for a pet until a forever home is found. 

Shelters, pounds and foster organisations might not always have the space or facilities to look after all of their pets, which is where their network of foster carers can really help. Likewise, some pets can’t stay in shelters because they are very young, recovering from injuries or have other special needs.

If you really love animals and want to help them, now could be a good time to explore fostering a pet for a shorter period of time. Likewise, this could give you a chance to assess if you are ready to care for a pet in the long term. And if you fall in love with your foster pet, you might even consider giving them a permanent home!

You might also consider donating some money to an animal welfare or foster organisation if this is within your means. They always need our support and you will feel great knowing you contributed to a worthy cause.

Are you looking after a new cat or dog right now? We’d love to hear all about it and how you made the decision to open up your home to a new furry friend. Just tag us on Instagram using #pawshakeau or visit our channels below:

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