That puppy is so cute! I am buying it!
Getting and looking after a pet is of a huge responsibility and requires significant amount of commitment – something that not many people are able to devote to or offer in the long-term. Unfortunately as a result of humans’ impulsive movement of getting an animal companion, Singapore has seen a substantial increase in the number of stray animals and abandoned pets over the years, spiralling also the number of local animal welfare groups formed. Additionally, abandoned pets are often in poor health upon rescue, something that can be prevented if pet owners have engaged in thorough consideration of their commitment and ability to look after a pet before acquiring one. These aspects have unfortunately and sadly put the pet-human relationship in a very negative light. Having said, the increase in animal welfare groups is a good sign: it highlights the realisation and acknowledgement that the voiceless – in this case, animals – also need a voice to speak on their behalf (and hence effort by people to do so). That is, us humans are doing something for our animals rather than sitting back and watching the whole unfortunate event. (Click here for more information on Singapore’s animal welfare organisations and groups!)
Let us first think through that decision,
Before you decide to keep a pet, think about why you want one, and research information on the animal’s life span and requirements for shelter, food, exercise, training, grooming and veterinary care. Most importantly, speculate the changes that might take place in your family’s life over the course of the animal’s life. Could you be moving? What if a new baby is born? What if a relative comes to stay? Think of the events that have a big impact on your family and imagine how these events may be affected once you have a pet. Be sure that you have the time, money, and desire to properly care for the pet every day for his or her entire life. A lack of planning often results in people giving up pets that they thought they could handle.”
- Why do you want a pet?
The reason(s) for wanting a pet is crucial, because it can serve as an indication of how long or extensive is one’s commitment to caring for the animal. For instance, young children who would like to keep a puppy or kitten may not be old or mature enough to help manage the rearing responsibilities of it. Parents in such positions are encouraged to postpone the acquiring of a pet. Nonetheless if an individual is seeking for an animal companion and is certain in his or her dedication for caring for it, then getting one might not be too bad of a decision.
- Do you have time for a pet?
Pets require time and energy commitment, and cannot be ignored or neglected just because owners are busy or tired. Dogs are social animals which require frequent walks and playtime; cats will also gain from interaction with their owners. Each year, many pets end up in shelters or dog rescues (abandonment cases) because their owners were not aware of the time commitment necessary to look after them. If there are no others who can help to perform such extensive rearing responsibilities, potential pet owners may want to consider a pet with low demands, needs and maintenance.
Perhaps getting a goldfish may do the trick! There would not be a need to set time and energy (also money!) to potty-train it, to clean up after it (after it decided to soil your carpet), or even rush it to the vet at any unexpected emergencies.
- Can you afford a pet?
Buying a companion animal can be expensive. Adopting a pet may also be costly (adoption comes with an adopting fee, it is not free! The fee includes pre-adoption health check-up, micro chipping etc.), let alone the lifetime expenses in order to keep it happy and healthy. Expenditures include not only vet consultations, vaccines and medicines, but also training classes, toys, bedding, food and of course, treats, among many other things.
- Is this the right pet for you?
The choice of a pet depends on one’s personal qualities and external circumstances. If a potential pet owner love outdoors and enjoy the sun, a dog for a pet may be a better choice over a cat. If there is no ample running space at home to meet the movement needs of an energetic dog, then perhaps a cat is a more ideal choice. Think things through thoroughly before arriving at the ultimate conclusion – are there children to consider? Is there sufficient space at home for pet movement? Is a quieter pet preferable over a livelier one?
In fact, determining one’s pet choice by looking at how cute or popular it is may be a bad decision. Another reason why many pets ultimately end up at a shelter is because people eventually realised that the pet that they have brought home did not, well… fit into their way of life.
- How will your pet be cared for during an overseas trip?
Are there any reliable family members, relatives or friends who can help to look after your pet companions while you are away? Otherwise, will be there difficulties in affording or even finding a professional boarding kennel or pet sitter for the entire length of trip?
- Adopt, don’t buy!
With many dogs and other pet animals constantly abandoned, potential pet owners should highly consider adoption instead of purchasing a pet. Buying a pet indicates an indirect support for, for instance, cruel puppy mills whereby breeding dogs are kept in terrible living conditions such as restricted cages with limited space, improper flooring and unhygienic environments. Moreover, adopting a pet means freeing up space at a shelter and giving a chance for another unfortunate and unwanted animal to take over its place. When you adopt, you are essentially saving a life – not only from poor living conditions, but also possible euthanasia.
This list of considerations is not exhaustive: there are many other factors to take into account as well when one chooses and prepares to bring a pet companion home. Potential or future pet owners are recommended to do their own – and ample – research before deciding on the ultimate decision and lifetime commitment as to whether or not they should invest in an animal. How willing are you to go the extra mile to ensure the physical and mental well-being of your pet?