As I sit every damn day at my computer I read more and more about people giving up animals for ridiculous reasons! Such reasons as; I no longer have time, moving and can’t take them with me, children are allergic, have a new baby and no longer have time, it peed in my house, difficult and can’t afford training, the list of excuses are extraordinary. I read face book, kijiji, Belleville animals and pet websites, humane society pages again the list is endless. I don’t know about anyone else but it infuriates me on a daily basis! People like me who constantly try to rescue as many as I can, or who change their entire life style to accommodate these animals, move if have too, I simply do not understand why humans think animals are disposable? If your child was ill you wouldn’t put them down! If your new baby wasn’t accepted by your existing child you wouldn’t give up your baby, if you didn’t have time to spend with your children I am pretty sure you would make changes for your children, so why not for your animals? Also if I read one more time, ” if someone is willing to pay for my dog then they will be a good home.” Are you kidding me? Puppy mills and people who buy puppies often breed them for profit! Need Christmas money? Lets have a litter of puppies!. Can’t pay bills? Lets have a litter of puppies!, How about you get a damn job!!!! Just because people pay for puppies does not ensure them going to a good home! If you really and truly have your animals best interest at heart you would pick a home based on their ability to provide the animals with a lifestyle that suits them! The lifestyle of good excercise, health, food, socialization vaccinations, and spay or neuter not they and ” recoup their financial loss” by selling them!

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Animals are not temporary. They are not disposable. They are not commodities either. They are loving family members who depend on you to love and care for them forever. Most commonly kept pets will grieve when left behind, or abandoned by their family. So, think before committing!

Take a good look at your lifestyle and your habits. How much time do you have to devote to a pet? Some pets are more expensive to maintain than others. Are you financially ready to meet a new pet’s needs or an unexpected emergency? Remember, animal shelters exist because people create the need for them.

No one needs a pet RIGHT NOW! Do your homework. Take your time before making any decision. Pets do not make good gifts, and all family members should be involved in a decision like this. We teach our children a lot just by how we treat and value our pets. What do you want to teach your child?

No matter what critter you’re considering as a pet, in addition to the above mentioned, consider these things:

1.    What is the expected lifespan of the pet you’re considering? Some types of animals exceed human life expectancy. Some live only a year or two. Most cats and dogs live beyond 10 years. So, can you commit to a lifetime of care?

2.    How the heck do you care for this type of pet? Okay, we all know pets need basics such as food, water, and shelter, but what kind exactly? Snakes eat other animals. Large dogs consume mass quantities of food. Exotics need a variety of specialty foods, and sometimes special habitats. Some critters will go absolutely cage crazy if they aren’t provided with constant enrichment, exercise, and/or stimulation. Some need to be maintained at certain temperatures. Some animals are solitary. Some need more socialization. Do you have what it takes to keep this pet happy, healthy, AND safe??

Do you have what it takes to keep this pet happy, healthy, AND safe??

3.    Is this pet legal in my town/province or does it need a license or permit? Ha! You may laugh, but even some commonly kept pets are illegal in some places. It’s not only the wild and dangerous animals that are regulated. Animals such as hedgehogs, prairie dogs, and ferrets are frequent targets of animal bans. Check it out first! And think about your neighbors! Proper permits don’t ensure happy neighbors! Would they mind if they knew what was “next door”?

4.     How big will this animal be when it reaches adulthood? That cute 12 inch boa constrictor will reach 8-10 feet if cared for properly. Some snakes get much bigger. And in most places all are considered illegal once they reach a certain length (usually 6 feet)! Dogs grow up quickly too, as do lion and cougar cubs. What then? Are you prepared to deal with the adult animal? If you’re currently in an apartment, how will the animal (and possibly a cage) fit in your home once it reaches adulthood?

5.    Are you prepared for the financial obligations of pet ownership? Some pets need cages. If you answered the above question, are you prepared to invest money in a cage(s) suitable enough to house your pet as it grows and matures? Some of the “pets” dumped on us when they reached adulthood required cages that cost in the thousands. Are you willing and able to make such an investment?

6.    Do you have time for the animal? No matter what, it takes some time to care for a pet. The time required varies from animal to animal. Basic feeding, cleaning, and watering are certainly things to consider, but what about play and enrichment time? Some pets don’t require a lot of human interaction. Others are attention sponges. If the attention need isn’t met, pets can become unhappy and even unhealthy. Unhappy, unhealthy pets make humans miserable too. If you simply want something to look at, get a plant – you’ll stay happier too.

7.     Why are you getting the pet? “Because I love animals” is not a good enough reason. Lots of animals suffer under the care of real animal lovers. And pets are not status symbols. People don’t look cool walking a tiger down the street. Pets can provide companionship and joy; they can be something to look forward to after a hard day. Pet ownership is a privilege, not a right! Also, pets DO NOT teach children responsibility! There are many kids out there that are responsible enough to care for pets (some more responsible than their adult parents). Be honest with yourself, and don’t overestimate your child. If he or she begs and whines and makes all sorts of promises, remember that chances are YOU will probably be the pet’s main caretaker no matter what your child says!!

8.    What type of major life change could affect your ability or desire to continue holding up your end of the commitment deal? A new baby? A new pet? A new car? A lost job? A geographical relocation? A new spouse or partner? Sometimes things happen and it’s out of your control. We understand true emergency situations. But, when you just had to have that cute puppy (with a lifespan of 10+ years), did you intend on staying childless, or did you just figure you’d dump the pup when the kid arrived to take his place? And don’t think sentencing him to a life in a cage with little human interaction is any better. There’s a lot to be said about “forward” thinking!

9.   Have you looked into vet availability? Even if you can find aveterinarian who will treat this type of animal, will you be able to afford it? There are a bazillion dog/cat vets out there. Have you considered what would happen if your exotic or wild animal needed veterinary care (not to mention routine care)? Vets are not all-knowing! Some will not treat exotic or wild animals. Others may want to, but admittedly lack the knowledge. Vets who “specialize” in or treat exotics are also frequently more expensive.

10.   Are you willing to go to any length to ensure the pet remains a family member-in-good- standing?Huh? I mean, when your pet destroys the house, eats the Thanksgiving turkey, or whizzes on your guest’s leg, are you willing to seek advice and or training from a professional? Are you willing to change your routine to be part of the solution instead of getting abusive or dumping the pet? All dogs should have basic obedience training. And rabbits can’t chew electrical cords if they can’t get to them. Having pets frequently means creative problem solving. If you tend to give up easily… Again, stick with a plant.

11.    Do you have a back-up caretaker in case of vacation (what’s that?) or hospitalization? While you may be willing to forego any vacations for the sake of your pet, what would happen if you were unable to care for your pet temporarily? All pet owners need back-up plans. Would it be easy or difficult to find responsible, reliable help for your pet? Lions intimidate most pet sitters. Dogs and cats can be difficult guests in an unfamiliar surrounding. So, do you have a back-up?

If you’re grappling with any of the questions above, then chances are you are NOT ready to take your desired pet home. Do some more thinking and researching. Animals run, play, jump, climb, make noise, poop, throw up, eat, poop some more, get into trouble, sleep, grow, demand attention, and make nuisances of themselves on a regular basis. If you or any of your family members cannot accept this simple fact of petdom, then head back to the local garden center.