You and your family want a pet, but what type of pet will be best suited for your home?
This may be one of the most important decisions you ever make. There are a variety of animals to choose from, such as dogs, cats, birds, fish, rabbits, hamsters and exotics like reptiles.
Wild animals do not make good pets and never should be considered. And remember that all pets, large and small, need care and attention.
Angels for Animals is an organization that makes every effort to help people choose the right pet. Poor decisions can result in abandoned animals, aggressive animals or pets with behavior problems.
When choosing a pet, it is important to consider the animal's needs as well as your own. It is a mistake to assume that any animal that you bring home will fit into your lifestyle.
Lifespan: Certain birds can lives 80 years or more. Reptiles have special needs as well. To avoid problems, choose an animal that will realistically work for you and your family.
Here are some guidelines:
Work: Do you work eight or more hours a day? Do you work at home or outside your home? A puppy is not a good choice for someone gone all day or who travels. A puppy needs a lot of attention, including training to be housebroken.
It is a terrible mistake to get a puppy that you have no time for and as a result put outdoors to live on a chain. Even adult pets left alone for too many hours can develop negative behaviors or have accidents on the floor.
If you do work longer hours and want to have a pet, you may try a lower maintenance animal or two animals to keep each other company while you are gone.
Children: If you have babies or younger children, you probably should try an adult animal. Adult animals are typically housebroken and are past destructive behaviors. A baby in diapers and a puppy being housebroken can be a lot of work.
Kids and animals: A puppy or kitten is like a baby, and young children should be supervised on how to play with and hold an animal.
Older children can be responsible for some of the pet's care and exercise. If your children are involved in an extra-curricular school activity, will they have time for a pet?
Other pets: If you already have a pet, some caution is needed when introducing a new animal into your home. Some pets can feel jealous or threatened.
Never leave them alone together until they know each other. Most animals will learn to coexist and even like each other in a short time.
House: If you rent, live in a condo or trailer park, there may be regulations about the type and size of pet that you may keep.
Make arrangements: Many people do not ask their landlords about pets and try to sneak an animal into their apartment. This is not wise, because you may find that you will need to find a new place to live or the pet will be without a home.
Health: If you can't afford to keep up with basic care such as vaccinations, spaying and neutering, food, treats, proper shelter and possible obedience training, then you should not get a pet.
No pet is free.
Even fish need an aquarium, lights, food and equipment to stay healthy. If you cannot afford veterinary care, what will you do if your pet gets sick or hurt?
Allergies: It is not wise to get a furry animal if there are allergies in your household. Chaining a pet outside because you can't breathe is not fair to that animal.
In addition, if you have difficulty walking or getting around, then a jumpy puppy is not for you. Consider how much exercise a pet may need.
Pets are wonderful friends. They all need time, love and companionship. The relationship between you and your pet should be special. Be realistic and take your time before choosing a pet.
Make sure you are ready for the long-term commitment. When you make the right choices, that pet becomes a wonderful member of your family.
XMary Jo Nagy is a volunteer with Angels for Animals.