Pet adoption requires serious commitment

| December 2008

  • Adopted dog
    COMMITTED RELATIONSHIP: A puppy brought home from a shelter can bring joy to a household for as many as 15 years – a kitten for 20. Adopters must be able to commit to the responsibility of caring for the pet through the years.
    – Courtesy of Family Features
  • Adopted cat
    CLOSE COMPANIONS: Pets can warm the hearts of their owners and children, and shelters are full of animals in need of new homes. However, potential adopters should ask themselves some questions before bringing one of the critters home.
    – Courtesy of Family Features

  • Adopted dog
  • Adopted cat

How much will owning a pet cost? How much time do I need to devote to a pet? These are questions potential pet owners should ask before adopting. Not everyone takes the time to assess the responsibilities and requirements associated with pet ownership, however – increasing the likelihood a pet will be surrendered to an animal welfare organization. Sometimes a pet is given up for hardship reasons, such as displacement after a natural disaster or home foreclosure. Yet one of the biggest and more controllable factors affecting pet relinquishment is a lack of knowledge on the owner’s part.

The good news is that pet relinquishment is often preventable through education. Potential pet adopters who truly evaluate their situations and get answers to important questions before bringing pets into their homes can increase their chances of a permanent pet adoption. is North America’s largest non-profit pet adoption Web site, with more than 5,766 public and private animal welfare organizations posting information on adoptable pets. Their vast resource of shelter and rescue organizations provides thousands of pets with loving homes each year. These organizations serve as local experts to anyone in search of the perfect furry friend. Recently, Purina Pets for Pet People surveyed more than 180 Adopt-A-Pet animal welfare organizations nationwide to develop a “Permanent Pet Adoption” checklist of the Top 10 most important things pet adopters should consider to ensure they have a successful adoption experience. You can find the complete checklist online at

Making a lifetime commitment is key

According to the survey, the number one thing a prospective pet owner should consider to ensure a permanent adoption is whether they’re ready to make a real commitment to care for the new pet for its entire life – just as they would with a child.

Another important factor to consider is that a pet affects other parts of owners’ lives, such as housing and travel, for as long as owners have the pet – as many as 15 years for dogs and 20 years for cats. More tips from the “Permanent Pet Adoption” checklist can be found at

Victoria Stilwell, a respected dog trainer, author and host of the television program “It’s Me or the Dog,” believes that potential pet owners need to ask the right questions before adopting, so they are prepared for the rewards and challenges that come with pet ownership.



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