BBB Advice for Adopting Pets

January 11, 2009

By Luanne Kadlub

Our best friends are in trouble.

Faced with the decision to feed their families or feed their pets, many animal-lovers are making the difficult decision to surrender their furry friends. Other pet-owners discover, after bringing home a puppy or shelter dog, that it doesn’t fit in with the family for any number of reasons. “Needs country home,” “best around adults only” and “family moving” are frequent reasons given for finding Spot a new home. And, of course, there are always dog breeders looking for homes for new litters of puppies.

Cary Retola, marketing, community outreach and volunteer program manager at the Larimer Humane Society, a BBB Accredited Business, says that while the number of animal intakes is increasing, so is the number of animals finding homes. In Larimer County, however, the increasing number of  pet surrenders is based more on lifestyle changes than economics, as is the case in many other locales.

So if you’ve been thinking of adopting a cat or dog, now is a good time. But don’t let emotions take over. It’s important to do your homework to make sure that when you bring home a new pet that it is indeed its “forever home.”

Retola says the first step is to consider whether or not you have the ability to provide the animal with what it needs. Who doesn’t think puppies are cute? But they also require the most time and patience. If you work full time or travel a lot, a puppy may not be the right fit. An adult cat, however, welcomes time alone.

The second step is to be realistic about who is the primary pet provider. While the kids may lay out all the reasons they should have a pet and promise to take care of it, the fact is that much of the responsibility ultimately falls upon at least one parent who writes the checks for food, obedience, grooming, toys and the vet.

And third, consider where you will be in one or five years. Will you be moving? Making a lifestyle change? If so, are you willing to relocate your pet as well? The Humane Society, for example, encourages college students to volunteer at the shelter to get their “fur fix” in lieu of adoption.

Ultimately, you need to ask yourself: Can I afford a pet? Annual cost for a healthy dog is between $815 and $1,000. Factor in health issues and that number can easily double or triple. “Different dogs will require different financial investments,” Retola says.

The Humane Society and other trustworthy shelters will work to ensure a good match is made and that all parties understand the commitment being undertaken. If you’re looking for a purebred, the Humane Society refers potential adopters to rescue organizations for those breeds.

If you’re dealing with a private breeder, Retola recommends asking a ton of questions, one of the most important being whether or not the dog can be returned. “A responsible breeder will offer to take the animal back,” Retola says, and not just for a limited time. This ensures that ultimately the dog finds a happy home.

“We want to find all homeless pets loving homes,” she adds. “There are lots of great resources to do that.”

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