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Pet Ownership

August 07, 2008  |  Difficulty: Easy

The Humane Society of the United States estimates that between 6-8 million cats and dogs enter shelters each year.  This is testimony to the fact that many new pet owners are unprepared for the responsibilities, whether the demands are financial, physical or emotional, of taking a pet into their family.

Thinking very carefully about how a pet might change your family’s life will give everyone a reality check.  Just because a child is begging for a puppy doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for your family. Think about your life as a family. Do the adults work all day or is someone home during the day to take care of a pet and provide love and interaction as well as the necessities of walks and food? Will children live up to daily responsibilities of playing with, training, feeding and walking their new pet?  Draw up a contract between you and your children because neglect is cruel. What is your reason for taking in a new pet? Think carefully on these subjects before taking the next big step.

If you’ve decided that there is definitely room in your family for a pet, the next step is to decide among the different breeds. The library is a fantastic resource to find books with information about the breed specific temperaments, needs and specialties as well as photos of each type of dog or cat. For example, if you have a 4-year old little girl who is terrified of big dogs, a large breed dog is probably not your best choice. You might think it will teach her that big dogs are nice, but most probably she will shriek and run every time she sees the dog and the dog will also be fearful of the reaction.  How long will you put up with that scenario before you take the dog to a shelter? Everyone in the family needs to participate in caring for the pet because problems happen when pet ownership is unwanted by a family member.

The following pages provide guidance on the pros and cons of where you might want to purchase your pet as well as basic pet supplies and information.  Take the time to learn all about it to come up with a successful plan for your family.  

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