Did you know that adopting a pet can improve your health and make you happier? Studies show that caring for a pet can help with stress, anxiety, depression and other ailments. The unconditional love an animal can bring to a home also helps to alleviate loneliness and foster affection.
Studies also show that stroking a pet can reduce blood pressure and stress levels, while playing with them can increase serotonin and dopamine, making you feel calm and relaxed. Walking them, too, is of course great exercise that also comes with a fleet of health benefits for all. Additionally, pets are wonderful for children as they help to teach them valuable life skills, such as responsibility and empathy.
For many of us, ‘puppy’ or ‘kitten’ may be high on the wish list. But rather than buying a pet from an animal breeder (and often cruel ‘puppy factories’), adopting a pet from a shelter means rescuing a precious soul and saving them from possible euthanasia. There are thousands of dogs, cats, bunnies and rats across the country looking for someone to love. Animals of all breeds and ages can be found in shelters. One thing they have in common is the unconditional love they have to offer. Pets never judge you and they’re always happy to see you when you get home. The more love you give in return, the stronger your bond will be for life.
If you’re thinking of extending your family with a four-legged friend, there are steps you need to take, including lots of research on the type of animal you want. There are handy pet selectors online to help you work out if your lifestyle suits a cat, fish, parrot or pony, and there are many sites with handy dog breed selectors with checklists to help you find your perfect match.
Some things to consider:
What sort of residence do you have (unit, house, etc.)?
Do you live in the city, suburbs or country?
What size is your yard?
Can you keep a pet secure (i.e. in a cage, hutch or safe backyard)?
If you pet needs to be walked, are you able to do this daily?
How long will your pet be alone during the week?
Do you have young kids or elderly householders that need to be considered?
Are you looking for a jogging companion or quiet lap cat?
Do you travel much?
How much can you afford to spend on food and vet bills?
Do you or any of your householders have allergies?
Have you had a pet before?
There are many pet adoption websites online, such as the RSPCA, Pet Rescue, Dog Adoption and Second Chance. You can search by animal type and location, as well as often size and age of the animal. But, beware, you may fall in love with them all! You could also visit your local shelters to interact with your potential pet and see if there’s a ‘spark’. You’ll be caring for your fluffy friend for years to come, so it’s important to find the right match. It’s a good idea to spend a little bit of time together to see how you get on. Remember to keep your checklist at the front of your mind in regard to pet size and energy levels, the size of your yard, etc.
Once you decide on your new family member, you’ll need to fill in an adoption form and pay the adoption fee. Shelters don’t make a profit — the fee covers their desexing, vaccination, microchipping and worming, etc., and helping the other pets in the shelter. The adoption fee generally ranges from $100 to $1000, depending on the animal. Older pets are often very sweet, fully trained and cheaper, as the shelters want to find their forever homes too. Some adoption services may require a home visit, as they want to ensure the pets will be well cared for.
Before adopting your pet, you may need to pet-proof your home, such as getting a more secure rubbish bin, barricading any area you don’t want them to have access to and fixing any holes in the fence. Don’t forget to register your pet with your local council so if it makes a Houdini-like escape, it can be returned to you.
Make preparations for your new pet by acquiring all their accessories before they arrive. Cats and dogs will need food and water bowls, food, a bed, collar — possibly some toys and a blanket — and most likely a crate to travel. A dog will also need a leash and poop bags. You could pamper your pooch in a Luxe velvet-lined dog bed with plush custom cushioning and regal design. A cosy cat cocoon is super snug for a feline. Rats, bunnies, horses and llamas will, of course, have other requirements and probably won’t be sleeping on a pet bed in the house! Do you research and be prepared.
Don’t jump into adopting a pet, no matter how much you fall in love with those furry faces online or in shelters. Be strict about following your checklist and ask about the animal’s history, as it may have been neglected or abused and require extra love, attention and training. You’ll be caring for your four-legged friend for many years so come and it would be heartbreaking to end up returning the animal to the shelter because you hadn’t considered every aspect.
When you bring your pet home, make sure you find a time when you’re able to be with them as much as possible for a few days for the adjustment period and to socialise them. Show them where the kitty litter or doggy door is and where you keep their food and water bowl. Younger pets may need toilet training or puppy school. Invest time in patting, cuddling, feeding, walking and chatting. This will help to quickly build trust and a beautiful bond with your fluffy new family member.