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A single mom's decision to adopt a pet


Sweet Sugar

Every time we see a cute animal around Fort Collins, my kids want it. Never mind the fact that we already have a menagerie, they still want another pet. I stand firm, no more pets, we have a houseful already and that’s my final decision, but something inside me always yearns for another just as much as they do. Practicality wins out in my case, however, because I just can’t handle one more responsibility at this time in my life, no matter how adorable the creature. As a veterinarian’s daughter, and a lifelong pet owner, I am fully aware of the realities of pet ownership.

A pet is a huge responsibility. Before adopting, one must consider not only the typical costs such as spaying and neutering, yearly vaccines, food, etc., but also the possibility that the pet may get sick and need to be taken to the veterinarian. Although the possibility of illness may increase as the pet ages, young pets are not immune from illness and injury. If you cannot afford to care for a pet properly, do not adopt one. My advice to people thinking about adopting a pet is if you don’t feel like something is missing from your life, don’t add a pet to your family. A pet needs a home where he is wanted. As an overwhelmed single mom, I would also suggest that you only adopt if you have at least one child that is mature enough to care for the pet (with your supervision, of course), or you will just be adding another responsibility to your already never-ending list of duties. If the child does not keep his or her end of the bargain, he or she will need to know what the consequences will be, such as possible re-homing of the pet.

Two lovable mutts

If you have weighed the options and have decided to add a pet to your home, please choose to adopt from a shelter or rescue. Research breeds for desirable personality and physical traits, and realize that mixed-breeds are often less prone to genetic defects than pure breeds. Also consider adopting an older pet – their personalities are more developed, you won’t have to deal with the baby stage, and you may even be lucky enough to find a dog that’s already been trained (cats aren’t trained – it’s their job to train you!). Be careful, though – adult pets may have bad habits that can be tough to break, such as biting, or they may have been mistreated, which can cause a myriad of behavioral issues. As for my own experience, I have adopted 2 mixed-breed adult dogs from shelters and they have been wonderful pets.

A day in the life of two overworked kittens

Dogs have so much love to give, and there is nothing like cuddling up with a purring cat at the end of a long day. Pets help teach children important life lessons as well, and the responsibility of caring for them builds character. That being said, the decision to adopt a pet, no matter how small, should only come after careful consideration.

A warning – some pet rescues seem to have more stringent screening procedures than those for adopting human children. For this reason, I have only listed those rescues and shelters whose screening procedures are sensible, and that I have personally adopted from. Please do not limit your search to this list, however, just use it as a starting point. With a little patience, you will eventually find the perfect pet for your family. 

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