I remember when I first adopted Charlie: a ridiculously hyper, sunshine-obsessed, and happy Jack Russell terrier. Like many pet owners before me, my heart was immediately stolen by his adorable round eyes and smile.
However, I didn’t let my emotions make a decision for me; owning a pet is a significant responsibility. Before you drive over to the nearest shelter and adopt the first animal that acknowledges you, knowing exactly what you’re getting into and feeling 100% prepared is imperative before taking the next step forward.
Since you’re considering adopting a rescue pet make sure to take the following into consideration.
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Things to consider
Are you financially prepared and stable? Owning an animal is an investment because they need to be fed specific food, require their own accessories, such as a leash or scratching post, and must regularly visit the vet for routine health check-ups and receive yearly shots. The age of the animal can also determine costs. Puppies and kittens, for example, must be taken to the vet every three to four weeks until they are four months old. The younger an animal, the more prone they are to getting sick! In addition, when they get older, are they likely to have health problems that may require surgery and medication.
Where do you live? Apartments, condos, and even rental houses have different rules for pets depending on the landlord and amenities offered. If you have a landlord, clarify their limitations for housing a pet on their property. Save yourself the trouble of running into any legal issues or pay unnecessary fees. On the flip side, if you own a house, ask yourself if the living quarters can accommodate to a pet in the first place. Is your backyard optimized to handle a large dog, or is the interior at risk for being destroyed and scratched up by a cat? A living situation can also determine what size of an animal is most appropriate to adopt!
Other members of the household or family
Do you have roommates, small children, and/or the elderly living with you? It’s important to be in agreement with all members of the household and know that everyone is on board with adopting a pet. The age and personality of an animal is a contributing factor to how well they can get along with everyone else besides you. For example, you should be careful if adopting a puppy when there is a newborn baby or young child present. That’s double the responsibility and stress taking care of two dependent youngsters! If you live with the elderly, such as aging parents or grandparents, they are better suited to be more acquainted with a calm animal as opposed to a rambunctious and hyper one. Other elements to think about can also include a person’s fear of a specific animal or their chronic allergies.
When you finally clock out of work and or wake up to the weekend, how do you spend your free time? If you’re an active individual who loves to be out in nature and exercise, choose a furry companion who would happily do those things with you. Let’s say your preferred animal is a dog. Choose a breed that complements your lifestyle with their characteristics and natural demeanor, such as a Siberian Husky rather than a lapdog like a Toy Poodle. That’s not to say Toy Poodles can’t be active, they simply don’t have as much energy or capacity to exercise for long periods of time! Siberian Huskies need owners who will aide in expelling their energy and stay active alongside them. Ultimately, your lifestyle should coincide and complement the personality and natural demeanor of an animal.
Do you have enough time to spend with this animal? We all need to work, but if you work long hours in an office or a job that constantly demands your services such as being “on call” in the medical field, you need to ask yourself if there is enough adequate time to socialize with and train your animal. Plus, you never want to leave a pet alone all day – they need constant love and affection! Don’t choose to put them in daycare or have them watched by family members and friends more often than actually being an owner!
Emotional and mental state
Are you emotionally and mentally prepared to take care of the pet? Only adopt a pet when you feel 100% ready to own one and know for a fact that you have confidently checked off every other aforementioned element from the list. Don’t get a pet if you have recently undergone a difficult circumstance or simply want one for the sake of saying so. Your frame of mind will be directly reflected on this animal and predisposes how responsible you are willing to be for them. Be intentional with the commitment to owning a pet – you determine the quality of their life!
Now that you have dedicated some time to consider these factors, and know for a fact that you are then able to make the most out of your relationship and time with an animal, you’re ready to take the next step: adopt one!
These are the seven unexpected benefits of having a rescue pet as your next best friend.
7 Unexpected benefits
1 – Pets from adoption shelters can undergo a foster program to see if they’re a good fit for your home
Adoption shelters are giving you the opportunity to take home an animal to see if they are a good fit for your home. Just because an animal is playful and wonderful at a shelter doesn’t mean that they will be perfectly behaved in a house. This period is where you can see how the animal reacts to your lifestyle and the surrounding environment. If an animal you fostered isn’t right for you, don’t feel guilty about taking it back to the shelter.
2 – Some animals from the adoption shelter are trained and adjusted to living with a family
Animals from the adoption shelter aren’t all picked up from the street or abandoned. In fact, some of them are wonderful animals that couldn’t fit into the life of its previous owner anymore for a reason, such as a living situation, divorce, newborn baby, or financial issues. This doesn’t mean the animal taken the shelter was bad or is unadoptable, the circumstances just weren’t in their favor. Subsequently, this animal may have already been trained, housebroken, and comfortable living with a family – thus saving you the trouble of having to train them or getting them to socialize with other people and animals.
3 – You save money in the long-run
Adoption shelters significantly reduce their prices for adopting animals, especially for the seniors! Sometimes, adoption shelters do not charge an adoption fee at all on some animals. They simply want to get these creatures to a safe and loving home as soon as possible. In comparison to puppy mills or breeders, you save hundreds and even thousands of dollars by simply choosing to adopt instead. Plus, multiple medical expenses and procedures have already been taken care of at the animal shelter, so your animal doesn’t need an immediate visit to the vet once they get taken home!
4 – You positively impact society by reducing the statistics of animal cruelty and puppy mills
Unfortunately, some animals taken to the shelter have been victims of animal cruelty. The action of adopting an animal reduces a statistic of animal cruelty and helps stop the overpopulation of them. For example, while puppies are wonderful, there are enough of them in the world. While it may not seem like much, one animal adopted over the purchase of a bred one prevents one less animal from being wrongly treated or raised.
5 – You save an animal’s life and give them a second chance at having a better one
After a certain period of time, animals must be euthanized if not adopted. Most shelters hold strays brought in for three days. If they are not adopted or claimed within that time period, the animal must be euthanized. That’s not to say that every animal has this timestamp on their life, but it’s commonly practiced. Other reasons animals are euthanized are due to behavioral or aggression problems that deem them unadoptable, untreatable illnesses and injuries, and sometimes, even just to end its suffering and give it peace. While it’s automatic to think about how animals can benefit us, we should stop to think that we have done more for them than we realize. We save an animal’s life and give them a second chance at having one. The love and companionship comes full circle in that sense.
6 – The adoption shelter will give you an unlimited amount of resources that enable you to become a better and more well-informed owner
A great thing about adoption shelters is the fact that they can provide you with an unlimited amount of resources to help the pet adjust better to your home, keep you informed on all the ways to keep them animal healthy and happy, and can answer any questions or concerns you may have. If you adopted a puppy, for example, you can bet that the shelter will immediately direct you towards a training program to ease your stress over housebreaking it.
7 – You improve your health and overall quality of life, both emotionally and physically
Last but certainly not least, your health and well-being are positively impacted by a rescue pet, both emotionally and physically.
The emotional benefits
- If you suffer from depression and anxiety, pets relieve their symptoms. Studies show that mental health conditions tremendously improve thanks to the ownership of a pet.
- Had a bad day? You won’t feel as down when a loving animal greets you at the door who’s excited to see you and be in your presence again. Their unconditional love has the ability to soothe your sadness, ease anger, and make you feel there’s no need to hide your emotions in front of them.
- Look forward to dramatically reducing your stress since animals have the ability to naturally calm you down. Interacting with a pet kickstarts the production of oxytocin, the hormone that is stimulated by touch – which in this case, happens thanks to snuggling up with an animal or simply petting them. Also, think of a petting an animal as a therapeutic coping mechanism that benefits both parties: you feel more relaxed while your pet delights in being scratched on the head.
The physical benefits
- You diminish your chances of developing chronic diseases and pain since a pet can encourage you to live an active and healthy lifestyle. If you get a dog, it needs to be taken on daily walks. After a while, walking in the same park or neighborhood can become boring. Before you know it, you find yourself exploring new areas in your city and always getting out there in the sunshine!
- You improve cardiovascular health since animals lower blood pressure, reduce your risk of suffering heart attacks, strokes, and hypertension. Did you know dogs, in particular, can sense seizures too? Some are even trained to specifically warn their owners of an upcoming one.
- Say goodbye to allergies! Your immune system is strengthened since exposure to dog dust introduces microbes into the body, which are specifically affect lung and respiratory health and can protect against bacteria that causes asthma.
On a concluding note
You can only look forward to great things when dedicating your time and love to a pet. They love you unconditionally and without question, and at times makes you smile for no apparent reason. Without realizing it, a pet has become an integral and significant part of your life.
Five years ago, when Charlie died, I was devastated beyond belief. However, I learned from his death the most valuable things in life. By seeing him run as fast as possible across the beach the moment we arrived, knowing he took any chance to stand next to me, watching him enjoy a delicious treat, and sleeping next to him, I came to see that there has always been more to life than the tedious stress of work from the office, my bad days, and the tragedy of personal circumstances. All of these things are temporary, but what’s permanent is the love and joy that is brought to us by the people and pets we love. These things are what keep us going in this crazy world and help us see the bigger picture of how we should be living our lives.
When you adopt an animal, they become an irreplaceable companion in your heart and will only bring you the utmost joy. No matter what happens, you will never regret welcoming them into your life.
Trevor McDonald is a freelance content writer and self-proclaimed “Dog Dad”. He’s written a variety of education, travel, health, and lifestyle articles for many different companies. In his free time, you can find him running with his dog, Charlie, playing his guitar or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.