Given how cute and cuddly animals are, it's easy to want to adopt them. However, what is not easy is taking care of them.
Caring for pets is a full-time commitment and requires an investment of not just your money but also time and love. We have all heard of pets being cast off because their owners are no longer able to take care of them. Being abandoned leaves pets scared and traumatized.
We got in touch with animal activists Ayesha Chundrigar and Sarah J.K to compile a list of things one should consider before getting a pet.
Ayesha Chundrigar is the founder and CEO of ACF Animal Rescue and Sarah J.K is the founder of Bella & Buddy and director of Animal Welfare at CDRS; Bella & Buddy sells pet products to generate funds for animals’ rescue.
They have advised people to keep the following things in mind before getting a pet:
1) Does your lifestyle allow room for a pet?
Don't be impulsive, think carefully about whether you lifestyle allows for a pet or not. If your schedule is super busy, a cat might be a suitable pet for you as they are independent and pretty easy to take care of.
Rescue/stray cats are even easier because they don't require grooming. Dogs, however, are very dependent on their owners and demand a lot more in terms of proper exercise, love and training.
Ayesha said, "As long as the pet is alive, it has to be like your child, you cannot give it up if and when things get difficult or if they have an ailment. You have to make time for them and be with them in sickness and in health."
2) Can you make a 15 year commitment and make sacrifices in other aspects of life?
The usual life expectancy of happy, healthy animals is 12-15 years so only get them if you can make a lifelong commitment no matter what comes your way. Sarah gave the example of her dog, Honey: "She was adopted at 3 months and then sent back to me a month later, starving and scared of everything. Then she got adopted again and sent back in one week."
"She then went to ACF, got depressed, stopped eating." In the end, Sarah herself adopted Honey who turned our to be an absolute sweetheart.
Ayesha also shared an incredibly sad story of a pet adoption drive that was held at T2F. "At T2F, we had an adoption drive that we're never, ever doing again. All our animals were adopted only because people wanted their photographs posted on social media and wanted to be known as very kind people. From the very next day, all the animals were very slowly and systematically sent back to us. Some were sent back in locked trunks and two dogs even died."
It's heartbreaking to see how cruel people can be.
Chundrigar also added that it often happens that once puppies start teething, they start chewing on things and people decide to give them up rather than deal with this issue. Abandoned pets become very anxious, nervous and insecure, and usually end up getting dumped at shelters.
3) Can you make the financial commitments?
Are you willing to invest in proper food, training, grooming as well as medical procedures like spaying, neutering, vaccinations? Owners should realize that having a pet is very expensive therefore, they should only get it if they're in the financial position to give it the best life possible.
Sarah said "When choosing a vet make sure to check the quality of service and the products being used, and keep in mind that good vets and groomers don't come cheap".
4) Are you ready to get your pets spayed/neutered?
Pet owners must make sure to get their pets spayed/neutered once they reach the age which is usually three months, as they are less likely to contract deadly, contagious diseases, such as feline AIDS and feline leukemia, that are spread through bodily fluids. Allowing your pets to breed is unethical and cruel, especially if you cannot take care of their offspring.
5) Do you have allergies?
Make sure you or your family members are NOT allergic to cats or dogs. It's common to see people taking in pets then dumping them a month later because some family member is allergic to them. Sarah suggests that a good way to test this is to board dogs or cats for family and friends.
6) Are you open to adopting rather than buying?
It's best to check out adoption options first, because by purchasing pets you encourage breeders to run unsolicited mills in their homes or farms where animals are kept in terrible conditions and treated like baby making machines.
Try to buy or adopt from someone who keeps animals as PETS, with love and care. Ayesha also said: "Don't be a breed snob. A reason why so many homeless animals are not adopted is because people prefer animals of foreign breeds rather than Pakistani ones".
Based on her own experience, Sarah added that adopting a stray animal with another breed reduces the chance of pets being stolen.
7) Are you willing to do some research?
Reach out to the pet community and do your research prior to purchasing or adopting. A pet is a life that you have taken responsibility of so make sure you are ready for it. Like Ayesha said, "Getting a pet just because you find them cute in the moment is not a good reason for adopting an animal, ever".