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Do your homework before selecting a pet

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Considering a new family member? Bringing any new pet into your home is a process that should not be taken lightly, as many of you can attest. Something as small as a goldfish still needs care, cleaning, feeding, tank, accessories and attention.

When it comes to larger animals such as a dog or cat there are more pieces of the puzzle to be considered. Many pets end up in shelters because people did not think through their decision, nor take time to do research. Will my cat live inside, outside or both? Do I have a safe neighborhood for a cat to be outside? Many cats lose their lives to predators, cars, other cats, illness, and more. 

How long might my pet live?

What type of dog fits my lifestyle: large or small, energetic or mellow, long or short hair, etc.? How much time do I really have to devote to training, exercise, socialization, grooming and more? What will this cost: food, vaccinations, routine veterinary care, spay or neuter, emergency medical care, medications, grooming, boarding, bed, toys, bowls, leash and collar — and don’t forget fencing — kennel, crate? Oops! You may need to add: replacing the TV remote, new shoes, clothing, furniture, carpet cleaning, holes dug in the yard, chewed fencing … you get the idea, especially with a puppy or young adult dog. And you may need to consider training classes — your new dog has not read the book “101 Good Dog Behavior,” so it is up to the whole family to help him become a well-trained family member who everyone can enjoy for many years to come. 

Different breeds of animals present a variety of characteristics and not all of these are going to automatically mesh well with your family. For example, did you know a bunny is not always the best pet for young children as they are very fragile and need careful handling?

To find out more about a potential new pet, do your homework. Go online, ask a veterinarian, talk to others with experience, visit your local shelter or rescue group, talk with a trainer. If you take the time and effort before adopting, you can avoid many pitfalls and add a wonderful new life to your household with all the benefits and fewer hardships.

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