By Maggie B.
Most of my time spent writing about animals is telling you reasons why you should adopt an animal, but sometimes, we also need to remember the situations in which it is better NOT to get a pet. Below I have written about some situations you might find yourself in where it is a better choice not to get the pet, or at least, consider the situation heavily before you do get the pet. And the reason I am writing about it is because these are the people who wind up surrendering their animals back to the shelters, which takes away valuable time it could have spent looking for its true forever home (especially when people adopt tiny puppies and surrender them as grown dogs!). Not all animal surrenders are made by people who hate animals and had malicious intent–sometimes, you find yourself in an unpredictable, unavoidable situation, and we understand this, but sometimes, of course, the entire situation could have been avoided with a little forethought. So take a look if you are considering getting a pet; it is a huge decision and definitely not one that should be made lightly!
1. If you are allergic to animals, do not adopt one. You might be able to deal with itchy, watery eyes once in a while, but when it’s a day-in, day-out, 24/7 for the rest of the dog’s life thing, it will be unbearable, no matter how much you love animals. Stick to living vicariously through a friend’s dog, and get a fish.
2. If you live with a roommate that you do not intend to live with forever, do not adopt a dog together. You might think that in this situation, people parting ways would both want the dog, but unfortunately what happens more often than not is that neither person wants the dog and had counted on the other person to take it. If you live with a roommate and definitely want a dog, make sure you have a definite plan for which one will take the dog if your living situation changes.
3. If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, heavily consider how a new dog will fit in with a new baby. If you think you might feel like the dog will threaten the baby in any way, do not get one.
4. For that matter, if you think you might have kids at any point during this dog’s lifetime, really think about what dog you are getting. If the dog is not good with kids, you might think that since you don’t have kids right now, it will be okay. But if you are planning on having kids 10 years from now, what could likely happen is that you will wind up surrendering a senior dog. Dogs that are not kid-friendly are best for people who do not have kids and never plan on it, or whose kids are already grown (and who do not have grandkids, either!).
5. If you are in any kind of sketchy situation financially, it is not a good time to adopt a dog. First of all, dogs are not free to feed. But secondly, even if you can afford to feed it, are you going to be able to afford emergency medical care in the case of an accident? Unfortunately, dogs are much more likely to be in life-threatening accidents than people are. Are you financially able to see to it that your dog is not in pain, and what’s more, to see to it that your animal does not get the death sentence from a simple broken leg because your financial situation forces you to pick euthanasia over routine medical care? And even if you choose to provide medical care for your animal, is that choice going to force your family to do without things they need? If so, it is not a good time to adopt a dog. The first clue is always the adoption fee. If you feel like you cannot afford the adoption fee, unfortunately, you probably cannot afford to have the dog.
6. If you are planning on moving at any point during the dog’s lifetime, are you prepared to find a home that will allow your pet to come with you? The NUMBER ONE reason we hear for people surrendering their animals is that they are moving and cannot take the animal along.
7. And on that note, before you adopt an animal, you must be certain that your landlord allows animals! (This is why we always ask for their phone number). We cannot tell you how many times we have heard, “Well, technically animals aren’t allowed, but the landlord won’t care.” Well, even if he doesn’t care right now, he could, at any point, decide to care, and if your lease says that you are not allowed to have animals, he is well within his legal rights to force you to either give up your pet or give up your home. This is not a choice you want to have to make.
8. If you are ill or elderly, or both, you will want to heavily consider whether or not adopting an animal is the right choice for you. We understand that if you are sick, you might find comfort in having a pet. Just make sure that if the time comes that you are unable to care for your pet, you have already made other arrangements for it, such as by ensuring that a friend or family member will take on the responsibility of caring for your pet (for the rest of its life). It is heartbreaking for an elderly or sick person to have to surrender their animal to a shelter, not because they don’t love the dog, but because they cannot take care of it any longer, but no one in their family will step up to do it either (And yes, it happens more than you would think).
9. Pets should never be gifts, unless the pet is for your child, AND you will personally be the one who is responsible for the pet. Now, this is not to say that you cannot pay the adoption fee for someone as a gift; however, whoever is getting the animal absolutely needs to be the one to pick it out and pick it up! Choosing an animal to care for for its entire life is a personal choice that should only be made by the person who will keep the pet. If you pick out someone else’s pet, what if you pick one they would not have picked personally? And, pets should NEVER EVER be a surprise! If you are planning on surprising someone with a pet, what if they did not want one?! Don’t do it. Finally, even if the pet is a gift for your child, avoid it as a holiday present. Why? Because it is easy to get in the spirit of giving during the holidays, and while this in and of itself is noble and good, it also means that you might make hasty purchases that were ultimately unnecessary, and those gifts wind up being returned. This is fine if it’s a sweater, not fine if it’s an animal. That said, we love for our pets to go home for the holidays, and we are certainly not saying that you shouldn’t adopt just because it’s the holiday season. But just make sure that this decision is made carefully, with plenty of time and thought put into it. (As a matter of fact, this should always be the case, no matter what time of year it is!).
10. Finally, do not adopt a pet just because you feel sorry for it. It’s a very sweet sentiment, but ultimately the wrong decision if you do not really, really want the pet. Unless you are truly prepared to care for the pet for the rest of its life, it is better to leave it for someone else. You do not want to make a decision you will soon regret just because the animal tugged on your heartstrings. If the animal is in a no-kill shelter, it will find someone. If the animal is in a kill-shelter, you might want to consider fostering it until it can find a permanent home. Also consider donating to or volunteering for an animal shelter if you really want to help out but are not fully prepared to adopt. Now, of course, if you feel sorry for the animal, but you also think you will feel a connection and love for it and absolutely want to care for it for the rest of its life, then go right ahead! Go you! But don’t make a hasty decision–because those wind up being bad decisions.