Is Adopting a Pet for You?

If you're looking to get a new pet, The American Humane Association encourages you to adopt one from your local animal shelter. Millions of adorable, affectionate and healthy cats and dogs are surrendered to shelters each year. More often than not, these pets are given up because the cuteness and novelty wore off.

Sharing your life with a pet is a commitment that lasts a long time. Statistics show that people who do not keep their pets for life did not plan ahead or held unrealistic expectations for their pet. Because shelter professionals match people with pets for a living, they can be a valuable resource in this big decision. To help you get a head start on the process, here is a list of things you should consider before adding any pet to your family:

• What is your lifestyle like? Are you generally more active or more content to relax at home?

• How much time can you realistically spend caring for and loving your new pet?

• Can you afford the expenses of food, medical care, boarding, grooming, toys, etc.?

Once you decide you want to adopt a new pet, you'll need to plan for the best time to do it. You'll want to pick a time when no major life changes are pending. If you're moving, getting married (or divorced), starting a new job, taking a big trip or having a baby, it's probably not the best time to get a new pet. Your new furry friend will definitely benefit from a stable environment when he or she first comes home with you.

Adopting a pet isn't like running to the local grocery for a loaf of bread. It takes time, so be sure to clear your schedule to make the most of the experience. While there are common procedures at different animal shelters, each one has their own way of matching people with pets. A quick call to the animal shelter for visiting and adoption hours, fees and processes can save you some trouble, since you will want know what to expect before you go. For example, don't be surprised if the shelter requires you to: Bring the entire family (including existing pets) to meet the potential adoptee Provide proof of home ownership or landlord approval for pets Spay or neuter the pet (some do it before the new pet can go home).

What's in a name?
Humane societies (also called animal rescue leagues, SPCAs, etc.) were created by concerned individuals to protect animals from people. Animal control agencies, on the other hand, were created by governments to protect people from animals. Both types of agencies work for the welfare and humane treatment of animals. They are often just called animal shelters and have similar basic programs, including adoptions, euthanasia services, cruelty investigations, and animal rescue. Animal control agencies, however, are generally responsible for picking up strays and enforcing local animal codes. Some humane societies contract with their local governments to take on this civic responsibility. Animal shelters tend to have services that reach out to area pet owners, such as humane education for school children, holding summer day camps, offering pet behavior classes, and running spay/neuter clinics.

What is AHA?
Since 1877, the American Humane Association has been a national leader in identifying and preventing the causes of child and animal abuse and neglect. AHA provides advocacy, training, research, disaster relief and other services to support the work of thousands of dedicated animal welfare professionals. For more information about what AHA does to protect animals, visit www.americanhumane.org.

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