Before you start thinking about what to name your next dog or what breed you’d like, you should first think about everything that goes into owning a dog or other pet.
The United States is home to around 70 million pet dogs and around 80 million pet cats.
That is a lot of pets, and it's why it seems like everyone has one.
Actually, most RVers have some sort of pet too – dogs, cats, turtles, and even parrots.
But, according to the ASPCA, about 7.6 million animals enter animal shelters each year, and one-third of them are brought in by their owners.
Yes, that means that millions of pets are sent to a shelter by their owners.
Why do so many pet owners give up their animals?
Well, according to a survey done by Petfinder, people relinquish their pets because they are moving, they own too many pets, the cost of pet maintenance is too high, and more.
Another finding from this survey is that 47% of dogs and 40% of cats are between the ages of 5 months and 3 years. Most dogs and cats are only owned between seven months to one year. This means that people are getting rid of their pets pretty quickly.
Lastly, 33% of dogs and 46% of cats that were given up had never been brought to a veterinarian. This is because many people do not realize how much time and money pets require!
Now, I absolutely love pets.
I have two dogs of my own, and, while some may disagree, they are members of our family. We bring them everywhere we go, we love cuddling with them, we regularly (almost daily) go on long hikes with them, we take them to the vet annually, and we just had multiple tumors removed from one of our dogs (so we understand what high vet bills are like).
But, many people take up owning a dog without fully thinking about everything that goes into owning one.
This can lead to surrendering the pet to an animal shelter. And, sadly there are approximately 2,700,000 pets euthanized each year.
I know that owning a dog or cat can be very appealing (they can be great companions), but before you assume you should own one, you should be realistic about your ability to care for a pet.
Before you think about owning a dog or cat, think about the below:
Do you have the time for a pet?
Owning a pet, whether it's a dog or even a cat, requires you to spend at least some of your time with them. In general, owning a dog will take up more time than other types of pets. You can't just crate your dog all day long and never take him or her out for walks or to run around outside.
Many people end up getting rid of their dogs because the dog has to be left alone for too much of the day. If you have to leave your dog inside for the majority of the day, it may use the bathroom inside of your home, destroy your couch, and so on.
Pets need to spend time with others, so before you get one, you need to make sure you can spend plenty of time with them.
Are you ready for the responsibility?
Owning a dog or other pet comes with a lot of responsibility.
You'll have to find someone to watch yours pets when you go on vacation, you'll have to think about what you'll do with your pets if and when you're gone for the day, the costs (discussed further below), and more.
A pet will require many hours of your day, and it's not something that you can just shrug off.
Your pet's livelihood depends on you, and they look forward to seeing you each day. You should look forward to spending time with them as well.
Do you realize that one day your pet will no longer be a baby?
One day, that puppy or kitten you brought home won't be so tiny anymore. It may grow into a huge dog, even if the breeder told you otherwise.
I know many people who were told by a breeder that the dog they purchased would only be 15 or 20 pounds, yet they are 50+.
And, sadly many people give up their pets because they say they just aren’t as cute anymore.
Well, WHAT DID YOU EXPECT?!
Animals do age, and so will your puppy or kitten.
Getting a pet just because it’s cute isn’t a good reason. Your pet will get bigger and maybe not as cute, and you need to think about the next 10 to 20 years with them, not just the super cute baby months.
Are you prepared for it to be more difficult to find a rental?
Owning a dog usually means that it will be more difficult to find a rental, as the average landlord usually does not allow pets, especially dogs. This means that you may have to search further away for a rental that suits your needs, pay a monthly pet fee, and more.
According to the statistics I cited earlier from Petfinder, each year over 100,000 pets are surrendered to animal shelters, many of them euthanized, because the owner did not realize how hard it could be to move with them.
While it's not impossible, you will have to try harder and it may even require more money to find the best rental.
Can you afford owning a dog or cat?
Dogs and cats are expensive.
Many people don’t understand the total cost of owning a dog or cat and only think about the cost of pet food.
Unfortunately, that’s all most people think about, and I am always shocked by that.
You will need to think about veterinarian visits, obedience classes, housing, and more.
The average cost of owning a dog or cat can cost anywhere from $500 to $2,000+ annually.
That is a lot of money!
If you cannot afford the costs of owning a pet, then you should wait to adopt one.
You need to make sure you and your family’s financial obligations are taken care of before taking on the cost of adopting a pet. Considering that the average person only saves around 5% or less of their salary each year, the cost of owning a pet ($500 to $2,000 a year) may severely impact your ability to save any money at all.
Plus, no pet deserves to be surrendered at an animal shelter. If you are upfront and realistic with your financial obligations, you can prevent another pet from being surrendered and losing their family.
Are you interested in owning a dog? Do you think that some people jump into pet ownership?
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