Is your family ready to adopt a pet?

Adopting a cat or dog is a big decision and it’s a serious commitment — one that should last for the pet’s life, so 10 to 15 years or more, depending upon the breed.

But how do you know if you’re ready to adopt a pet?

The first consideration is your child’s age and his/her maturity level. It’s important that the child understands how to treat the pet properly, as an inability to understand that ‘action X will cause harm to the pet’ can result in an injured pet and/or child. In addition to an ability to behave properly around the pet, your child must be generally comfortable around animals. A fearful child can hurt a pet or trigger undesirable behaviors (for instance, if your child runs, this will activate the dog’s prey drive, causing the dog to give chase.)

While it’s nice if your child helps with the pet’s care, many kids will drop the ball in this regard so it’s important that the parent understands this and is willing to take over all required care.

It’s also important to take the pet into consideration in terms of your lifestyle. For instance, if you work long days or travel frequently, you’ll need to arrange for pet care services on a regular basis; otherwise, it can result in a situation where the pet is neglected. This can result in some significant behavioral problems.

If you’re unsure of whether a pet is right for your family, you can always speak with a representative from your local humane society or animal shelter. They’ll help you find a pet that’s right for your family.