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article: before you say, "i want that puppy."

courtesy of MetroPet magazine

Before You Say, “I want that puppy.” Ask Yourself These Questions by Cindy Pugh

No one can resist those adorable big eyes looking back at you from the pet store window. Or from the local animal shelter or adoption center at the pet store.

There never seems to be a shortage of puppies/dogs/kittens/cats to catch your eye at these or other facilities that house homeless animals. Pet’s become “homeless” for various reasons. Some are legitimate, circumstances beyond the control of the owner. Others, are due to our “disposable pet society” mentality. A pet should be a life-long commitment. That life can last for many years, sometimes 20+ years. Before bringing that adorable puppy home for the first time, you need to consider some very important factors.

How Big Will the Breed Get?
A puppy is obviously small when you first meet it. It will be that size for the shortest period of his entire life. While it is clear that a small breed dog will remain small, you must take into account that a medium or large breed dog is going to become a medium or large dog for the duration of his life. Do you have enough space for a big dog? Not just now but what about in your future. Do you anticipate a move or relocation in the future? Will that large dog fit into the picture then? While it is difficult to project what the future holds for us, many times pet owners do know and while it isn’t a problem now, it becomes one later.

What Is the Disposition of the Breed?
Do you have children now? Plan to start a family in the future? Let’s face it, some breeds are excellent with kids and some are not the best with them. Overall, the way you train your puppy/dog is essential to their successful interaction with children. And not just the dog should be trained, but the children should be trained on how to interact with the puppy or dog too. And not just dogs, cats as well. Children are curious and do not always do the right thing when dealing with animals. They must be taught the safe and correct way to interact with their pet.

What Space will this Animal Need?
Do you have a fenced yard for your newly acquired puppy/dog? Have you puppy proofed the yard? Observing all areas of the fence, landscaping, housing…? Puppies or small dogs can scurry under a fence and escape very easily. And, consider your landscape. If you have that picture perfect back yard and want to keep it looking like Home and Garden Magazine material, a dog can and will probably change that. They like to dig, chew, “rearrange” the fixtures or plants in your yard, create paths. If this will create a issue for you, you need to take this into account when considering acquiring a dog.

What is the Financial Responsibility?
If you are struggling yourself, as many are these days, you need to take into account how much it is going to cost to keep your pet properly fed, grooming, veterinary care, spay/neuter, vaccines, check-ups, annual testing for various internal parasites, emergencies, flea and heartworm medications as well as possible other medications. Then the extras: toys, bedding, collar. All these things can add up to a nice chunk of change. While most people want to have a pet, or more than one, you must consider the expenses and evaluate if the time is right for you financially. Pet insurance is becoming very popular these days. More and more pet owners are getting insurance. Some agencies even have a free 30 day trial for newly acquired puppies/kittens.

On any given day, our office will receive at least 1-2 calls from people needing to find a home or “get rid” of their dog/cat. That doesn’t even count the number of calls we receive regarding found animals. It’s heartbreaking and frustrating. We work with several pet adoption groups as well as maintain a small adoption center at our clinic. There doesn’t seem like there is a light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to unwanted pets.

When asking a member of LL Dog Rescue, “how do you cope with all those homeless dogs? You adopt one dog out but get two-three in its place”? I was told “we focus on one dog at a time, like 1 drop of water in the sea.”

Education First
We must educate ourselves as well as others before we consider if taking on a pet right now is in the best interest of both you and the animal. Allow yourself time to think it over. Never buy or take a pet on a whim. Never purchase or take on an animal for someone else without their consent. Although your heart may be in the right place, the timing may be all wrong and that gift you brought them may end back up in a shelter or even worse. The number of unwanted animals euthanized each year is staggering. Sickening in fact. Many of those euthanized pets started out as the adorable little puppy, gotten on a whim that soon was determined “inconvenient” to keep for various reasons. Some are legitimate reasons, and some are due to an unprepared lifestyle change.

Spay and Neuter
Population control regarding dogs and cats is crucial. I cannot emphasize this enough. If you have a pet that is not spayed or neutered, contact your veterinarian immediately. We want to help. We must address the crisis before us regarding our “Disposable Pet Society” Please pass the word.

One Last Thought…
If you love animals but after careful consideration you determine that the timing is not right for you to adopt one, consider becoming a foster family. There are multiple rescue groups in the metro area that are desperate for a foster family for their family of homeless pets. They would absolutely love to hear from you.

cindyCindy Pugh is the Office Manager at Aid Animal Hospital and truly loves her job. During her 17 years at the hospital, she has enjoyed the lives of many pets, from the first visit through the golden years. Aid Animal Hospital has been around for over 50 years and currently offers a wide array of traditional and holistic veterinary care for dogs, cats, bunnies, etc. The hospital also offers boarding and dental care. The hospital is located at 8343 Wornall Road. Cindy can be reached at 816-363-4922.

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