Things to Consider Before Getting a Pet

,Nearly 70% of households in North America own at least one pet.  There's no doubt that pet ownership has benefits to both physical and mental health in people. But caring for an animal is a commitment that requires much more than just bringing home a lovable little fur ball to play with and overload with cuteness your Insta feed.

Pet overpopulation

Pet overpopulation is a global problem. According to the 2017 Animal Shelter Statistics Canada by the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies , 133,537 companion animals were received by participating shelters, and 19,251 of those collected pets were euthanized. Juvenile, healthy and sick pets are killed every year because shelters are too full and there aren’t enough adoptive homes.

Dog dumping in our disposable culture

Tayna Thorpe, a co-ordinator for Freedom Drivers Animal Rescue Transports, a Montreal-based volunteer group that moves homeless pets out of overcrowded high-kill pounds to no-kill rescues throughout Eastern Canada, feels the direct impact of irresponsible owners and unethical breeders. Thorpe says the group transports up to 3,000 abandoned and surrendered animals each year and blames the prevalence of dog dumping on "our disposable culture. We get what we want when we want it, and toss it when we have had enough."

Futhermore, Winnipeg veterinarian Dr. Jonas Watson believes the problem of dog dumping in Canada is due in part to not enough people fully understanding the scope of responsibility involved in pet ownership. "Some people make impulse decisions about pet ownership," he says, "failing to realize that a pet is a lifetime commitment, through sickness and health, and a responsibility that demands years of time, energy and resources."

Unregulated dog breeding

Dr Watson explains: "The selling, or monetizing of adorable puppies and kittens may influence the way our society views pets. It certainly distracts from the fact that so many less-than-shiny-and-new animals are already in need of adoptive homes from shelters and rescue organizations."

Are you ready to adopt a pet?

Adopting an animal is nothing like purchasing a car. A pet is not something you discard when your Insta pics don't get as many likes as before. A pet is not to be surrendered when you don't have the budget to cover medical bills. A pet is not something you euthanize when you realize you don't have the time for it anymore. It is important to think through the practical implications of having a pet. Do you have what it takes to be a pet owner? Here’s what you should be thinking about.

Can I commit?

Are you truly prepared for the time and financial commitments of having a puppy? Are you committed to the DAILY responsibility of feeding, caring for, picking up after, and spending time with a new family member for the next 10-20 years?

Can I afford a pet?

According to the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA), the average annual expenses for the first year of puppy ownership in 2016 totalled nearly $3,000, when vaccines, pet licenses, food, and necessities like leashes and food bowls are taken into account. Kittens are slightly cheaper, around $2,000, but these expenses are still considerable. It is important to create a budget and account for cost of preventative medical care (shots, deworming, spay/neuter- easily $1K within the first year) and the enormous medical costs associated with illness, injuries, congenital problems (hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, brachycephalic airway syndrome in bulldogs, pugs, etc.) chronic health problems (skin problems, epilepsy, arthritis, diabetes), and emergencies. A good test is asking yourself: can I afford quality medical insurance for my pet (usually $60-$100/month)? If not, you might end up in a difficult situation if your pet developed a medical problem down the road.

Does this pet will fit my lifestyle?

Ask yourself:

  • How about my age?
  • How about my work?
  • How much time do I have to give to an animal?
  • Will my pet travel with me?
  • Will my pet follow me in my activities?