Working in rescue, we hear lots of horror stories about people getting pets and then not being able to keep properly, leading to the animal becoming neglected. Pet shops sell cute baby animals and social media has opened up a whole new realm to pets being given away, leading to people getting pets on an impulse. It is so important to research and plan before you take on a pet.
But they look so cute! I just had to buy one!
I think you would need a heart of steel if you don’t think baby animals are cute. Baby bunnies – those floppy ears. Puppies – those feet! Kittens – tiny noses. Buuuuut, just because they look cute, it doesn’t mean you should rush into it. Do you have the space? The time? Did you know rabbits can get to 10 years of age? That’s a huge commitment. Chinchillas can reach the grand old age of 20 years! Are you still going to want them that far in the future? Do you have room for them when they grow? They don’t stay little for long! Puppies can be destructive – have you thought about puppy proofing? Training classes? There is so much to consider first.
It needs to be a family decision
If you want to bring a pet into your home, all members of the family need to be on board. Everyone needs to be on the same page, especially if you are thinking of getting a dog or cat, as this is very different to a caged animal. For dogs, all family members need to follow the same rules to help the dog settle and adjust. For example, if the dog is allowed on the sofa by some family members and not others, it will confuse them. Cats and dogs will be a part of all family members lives, even if one person is the main carer. If someone in your family is against the idea, it’s best not to bring an animal into the home.
Pets are expensive. That cute baby bunny is going to need a large hutch, a run and toys. It will also need a rabbit companion and they will both need to be neutered, as well as being vaccinated annually. All animals will cost money, even after the initial set up costs. Vet bills can creep up out of nowhere as pets can and will get sick. If you decide on a dog, cat or rabbit, it’s worth getting them insured, however, this will come at a monthly or yearly cost to you! Then of course there are food bills, which add up quickly and are ongoing.
Are you planning on getting into a new relationship? What if your new partner doesn’t like animals (weirdos!), but it could happen. Are you thinking of moving? Will pets be allowed in your new place? What about starting a family? Will you be able to cope with a baby and pets? What if your job changes? Will you still have the time for them? Of course, none of us know what the future holds, but if you are thinking of changing your lifestyle, think how it will affect your decision to take on a pet.
Are you bothered by the rain or cold?
Pets need looking after all year round. Even if it’s raining, most dogs will still want to go on a walk. When Winter sets in, will you be willing to go out in the dark evening after work to see to your rabbits, clean them out and spend time with them? Have you thought about how the cold will affect your rabbits? Think of all possibilities that may affect your decision.
Who doesn’t like holidays? It’s a great time to relax, but what about your pet? Do you have someone who can look after them, such as a family member or friend? There is also the option of putting them in boarding, however this will be an extra cost for you. Can you afford a 2 week trip and 2 weeks of pet boarding fees?
Have you looked into their care?
Exotic animals are becoming more and more popular, with many pet shops stocking unusual species to draw people in. I have taken in many exotic animals that have been very unwell, because the previous owners haven’t researched into their basic care. If you are taking on a Bearded Dragon, find out what temperatures they need to be kept at. What size vivarium do you need? Ask yourself if you are happy to keep live bugs in your home to feed to your lizard. If you are taking on an aquatic animal, again, find out how they need to be kept. What do they eat? Is tap water safe (HINT – probably not…).
But it’s not only exotics! Oh no, so many people take on other animals and do it wrong. Rabbits being fed muesli and carrots, rats kept on sawdust, dogs not being walked – I could go on! My point is; read, read, and then read some more. Join forums, talk to experts. Make sure you have read until your eyes are sore and your brain hurts, because you need to make sure you are set up and ready for this animal. Nothing is more heartbreaking than taking in an animal who hasn’t had the basic care. Please don’t join the statistic of people I would like to punch because they haven’t met their pets most basic needs.
Yes – Readers of this blog will think I am a broken record, but…ANY animal can find it’s way to rescue. Any species, any age, any colour. Please don’t line pet shops and breeders pockets whilst rescues are overwhelmed with animals. Contact your local rescue (who should be able to answer any questions you have on that animal) and adopt a pet that needs a home. It will make you feel good because you have rescued, your new pet will have a new home and the rescue will have space to take in more. What more could you want? Stay out of pet shops, order pet supplies online and make a difference in the world. If you want a pet, that’s great, but please think about it properly and look at the whole picture.
Want more examples of what can happen with impulse pet purchases? Here are some of the most common reasons animals are surrendered to rescue