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By Judy Hunter
Central Paws Humane Society
Central Paws Humane Society, a volunteer-based non-profit registered charity, was formed in January 2003 by a small group of individuals saddened by the thousands of unwanted pets ending up in shelters, with rescue organizations, euthanized or abandoned in Newfoundland and Labrador each year.
We at Central Paws endeavour to prevent the issues that cause owners to relinquish or abandon their pets in the first place. One major reason why owners give up their pets is a lack of thought and research prior to acquiring the animal. Adding a pet to your family should be a decision made by considering many factors. Central Paws encourages prospective pet owners to ask themselves the following important questions BEFORE getting a pet:
Why do you want a pet?
Are you getting a pet just to please your children? Or perhaps you think a puppy or kitten would be the perfect surprise birthday present for your friend. Make sure everyone in the family wants the pet - especially the adults who will be the main caregivers. And never give a pet as a gift without consulting the primary caregivers first.
What type of pet best suits your lifestyle?
Seriously look at your lifestyle - the way it is today and the way you foresee it in the next 10-15 years. Offer to pet sit, or better yet, foster a pet to get a better idea of what breed/species best suits your lifestyle. Also ensure you have no allergies.
Do you have time for a pet?
Pets are not furniture. They require food, water, exercise, care, and companionship every day. Many owners get frustrated handling the demands of certain pets and these animals, in turn, end up in shelters or euthanized.
Can you afford a pet?
The costs of pet ownership can be high. For people wanting a puppy or kitten, we recommend saving at least 6-12 months in advance to ensure you can cover the cost of its needs, including vet care for health check, deworming, flea prevention, vaccinations and spay/neuter. There are many shelters and organizations with animals up for adoption that are already vetted, but be sure you can cover yearly costs and emergencies.
Are you prepared to deal with the problems pets can cause?
Flea infestations, scratched-up furniture, housetraining accidents, and unexpected medical emergencies are unfortunate but common aspects of pet ownership.
Are your living arrangements suitable for a pet?
If you are a renter, or may become one in the future, be prepared to provide a potential landlord with a copy of your pet's vet records, a couple of letters of reference from people willing to confirm you are a responsible pet owner (i.e. your vet, groomer, neighbour, pet sitter) and offer an extra security deposit. Also consider whether the pet you have in mind is a good fit for your home. The size of an animal is not the only thing to consider; also consider the requirements of the breed and species. For example, some small dogs are very active and can be loud, so they don't make good apartment dogs. On the other hand, some big dogs can be laid back and do very well in a smaller living space.
Is it a good time to get a pet?
Consider the stability of your current life circumstances. If you have young children, or plan to have children in the near future, waiting is always wise. If you're a student, in the military, or travel frequently as part of your work, waiting until you settle down is also wise.
Who will care for your pet while you're on vacation?
You'll need either reliable friends or neighbours or money to pay for a boarding kennel or pet-sitting service. Remember you will have to book these services in advance and have your pet's vaccinations up to date. Once you are a pet owner, spontaneous weekends away may become a thing of the past.
Need help deciding which pet is right for you? Central Paws is more than happy to help you out. For this and more information on the Society and how you can help us achieve our goals, visit www.centralpaws.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org