5 Things to consider before adopting a pet

Adopting a pet is not just about walking into a shelter and throwing some money at them after you have found your furry soulmate.    One needs to take various factors into consideration:

1. Do not buy a pet online or from a unethical breeder, it’s frowned upon.  Here’s why and how to identify these individuals:

People love well bred animals, but the good breeders are very hard to distinguish from the bad ones, which is why all breeders will struggle to escape this stigma. But how do you find out which one is which?

  • What you will never know is if they tied the female up to be forcefully impregnated by a male (or a few males!!! Dare I say rape?), or did they merely wait for the bitch to go on heat and allow her to fall pregnant naturally?  Somehow in breeding circles forced pregnancy is normal?  Anyway, Im not going to elaborate on that aspect of it for now.  
  • Another reason is that you will never really know if these breeding animals have a loving life or are they just used for #FactoryFarming more dogs in their back yard? GO TO THE BREEDING FACILITY (generally at the breeders home) to see for yourself what is going on.  Photo's are not good enough 'evidence' of good living and ethical breeding conditions.
  • There are tons of animal shelters and Breed Specific Rescues out there that have pure bred dogs and cats stuck in their cages, due to desperate breeders selling animals for the sake of selling them and not making the effort to educating the new owners on the breed and its character or health.  The animals might not have suited their needs as they grew older, and they became neglected or just handed over. 

  • Is the dog a lap dog, or is it hyper and needs lots of space and even more exercise?  Getting the wrong pet (like for instance a dachshund, to become your running partner) will become a costly mistake.  Don’t get me wrong, they love running and need to release their bountiful energy, but this is not your long-distance kind of partner. A dachshund will therefore be more suitable as a family dog that is less active.  The dog could develop back problems at an earlier age than is expected and the vet bills will pile up sooner rather than later. 
  • Do you understand the complex characteristics of the various breeds of cats?
  • Online is as dodgy as you can get.  A big no-no.  Rest assured that everything you buy or see online is not always as true as in the pretty picture that is posted.  Don't for one moment believe that you are buying from a legitamate source.  These pets come from horrific situations, and even though you might be saving them from that hell hole, you are actually encouraging the breeder to continue their unscrupulous means of income.  Sadly the exotic pet trade is booming online too, and people are buying animals online like candy, with little to no clue how to care for them.

The list goes on...  in fairness to breeders (as for many rescues and shelters too), they can not predict how the new owner will be treating their 'pure bred dog or cat', but the bottom line is that they should be helping towards keeping the numbers of the excess animals down, and yet they are not showing that effort at all.  In fact, it would be in their favour if they did focus their 'well earned income' more on animal sterilisation.

2. It will cost you money to ‘rescue a pet’ from a shelter.

If you have any idea what rescues and shelters go through to save animals, you will be glad to pay the standard fee.  The fee will generally be for the sterilisation, vaccinations, microchip and handling, which could be up to R850 or sometimes more.  Imagine being handed an emaciated animal covered in fleas and mange, and then the person just walks away?  Not only does this animal desperately need food, but a healing process begins that could take months before they could say this pet  is ready for a forever home.  Not many people want to take on the ownership of an emaciated dog or cat.  These rescues take these poor babies in and make them adoptable.  Be prepared to pay that fee when you go to a rescue to adopt a dog or cat.

You need to be approved before you can just get a rescue dog or cat and this process could take some time.

Be prepared to fill in a few forms and have someone come to do a home-check.  They will look to see if your home is pet friendly and secure.  The will probably ask you many questions to understand your lifestyle and try to ensure that the dog or cat which you want will meet your lifestyle and needs.  They will not expect the best of luxury for your new member of the family – even though that would be a bonus, but a secure garden, adequate shelter and will you be able to take care of the animal financially, is what will be the important factors to get you approved as a new pet parent.

Prepare yourself for the cat or dogs not-so-good side

  • Will the dog be a barker, chewer or a digger? 
  • Or maybe a jumper, or a licker or an under-your-feet-all-the-time type dog? 

Be prepared, because your new rescue will be doing one or more of the former actions.  Are you ready to take the dog to training, and are you prepared to not (want to) beat the dog up’ because they chewed your expensive sunglasses, shoes and or underwear, or dug up your newly planted rose bush?  These events are very likely to happen and your dog will need time and attention to help them.  Does your busy schedule allow for this?  Cats love to claw into the couch or a curtain.  They might want to mark their territory and this is very smelly indeed.  They are far less maintenance than a dog, but they also need love and attention.  Are you prepared to be patient – for a long time – as in a few years, to help your new dog or cat with his new home environment?  Are you prepared to keep your things packed away, and secure plants from being destroyed?

Expenses

  • Keeping your new pet healthy is important and good quality food is never the cheapest on the shelf.  Do adequate research to ensure that your dog or cat gets the best nutrition that your budget can afford.
  • Go away on business or holiday, without your pet, will involve expenses for a pet sitter or a kennelling facility.  How many times a year do you plan to go away?
  • Pet animals get sick and injured.  Some pets have hereditary health problems that might not be visible right now, but they will come your way.  Are you financially prepared for a vet bill that will cost you nothing less than about R600?  That’s just for a visit and an injection or two.  It is guaranteed to skyrocket if it involves surgery or more intense treatments.  Consider getting a good Pet Insurance when you adopt a dog.  The sooner your dog or cat is covered, the better it will be, because pre-diagnosed conditions will not be included in the cover.   PawPaw pet insurance does not discriminate against a breed type, you are guaranteed full lifetime* cover if the dog or cat develops a hereditary disease of some sort.  *Terms & Conditions apply.

Owning a dog or cat is a precious gift that can only be described by those who know and understand such a beautiful relationship.  Coming home to a talking kitty, or a wagging tail and cuddling on the couch with your fluffy partner are of the few I can mention indescribable feelings of joy and happiness.  The price you have to pay is nothing compared to the happiness and love they give you during their (short) lifetime on earth, but consider adopting and saving a life.  If you are a pure-breed type of person, mention this to your local animal shelter or try find a Breed Specific Rescue - they are sure to help you find the perfect pet for you.

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