Adult Education

Considerations Before Acquiring a Pet

Sharing your life with a pet is rewarding and enjoyable and should be mutually beneficial. Providing the proper care for a pet is a commitment for the life of the pet and an economic responsibility. All prospective pet owners should consider the following:

Time- Does your daily schedule allow you to care for a pet properly? Do you have time tofeed, groom, exercise, and train a pet? 

Cost- Can you afford the expense of a pet? Regular costs of pet care include food, routine veterinary care, and supplies such as collars, carriers, crates, books, boarding, etc.

Lifestyle- Do you have the desire and energy to care for a higher maintenance pet?  Do you have young children or another family situation that might restrict the type of animal you should bring into your home?

What kind of pet will you get? Every pet has unique needs and therefore requires a different degree of care. Carefully assess your lifestyle, the amount of time that you can commit to a pet, and your finances to select a suitable pet.


Dogs- Dogs, like all animals, need adequate daily exercise. Because owners are responsible for their dog's safety as well as their dog's actions, exercising a dog means walking it on a leash or providing it with a safe confined run area. Dogs that are allowed to run free can be injured or may threaten the safety of people or other animals.


Cats- Cats have become more popular pets than dogs. For safety purposes, cats are best kept indoors where they can get an adequate amount of exercise. Litter boxes need to be cleaned daily.


Small mammals & birds- Because of their size, some people conclude that these pets are relatively "low maintenance." However, small mammals and birds require similar daily care as that of dogs and cats.


Other factors to consider:

  • Young animals require several visits to the veterinarian for proper shots and initial care.
  • Dogs need to be tested each spring for heartworm and require preventative medication year round for fleas, ticks, heartworm, and other parasites.
  • Vaccines are required regularly for both dogs and cats.
  • Unforeseen injuries, accidents, and illnesses can involve costly veterinary care.
  • Geriatric pets may need increased veterinary care.
  • When a pet reaches the appropriate age, it should be spayed or neutered. Cats and dogs should be spayed or neutered by about four months of age, but can be safely sterilized as young as eight weeks of age.
  • These simple surgeries will help reduce the serious pet overpopulation problem, curb potential behavior problems, and provide a healthier pet and a happier home.
  • Other expenses may include fencing yards or building adequate outdoor shelters.
  • Licenses are required for dogs and can only be obtained after a dog is vaccinated against rabies. License fees vary. Some communities offer a fee discount for sterilized animals.
  • Licenses are not required for cats or for smaller caged animals in most communities. Rabies vaccinations for cats are required by law in many communities. When there are no laws (for licensing, leashing, etc.) to protect cats, they also receive little or no protection through animal control programs.


Where can you get a pet? Pets can be adopted from animal shelters or purchased from reputable breeders. If a breeder is used, inquire about the animal's parents, tour the breeding facility, and seek references. Be discriminating when choosing a pet. Too often, pet shops attract the impulsive buyer who may not be fully educated on the specifics of caring for a pet. In addition, most pet shop animals are poorly bred (puppy mills) and improperly cared for, resulting in a sick or ill-tempered animal.

The ideal relationship between a pet and an owner is founded on an owner's understanding of his/her commitment, enjoys being with the pet, understands its behavior, and provides sufficient and kind training. Both owner and pet will benefit from this type of relationship for many years.