BEFORE Adopting a Pet

Once again, posts are appearing on Social Media depicting long lines at rescue and shelter facilities of people who are wanting or needing to surrender their pets. This seems to be a common occurrence during the summer months as well as during the holidays; times when people are expecting visitors or when they themselves are wanting to travel, or for whatever other reasons. Odd that there is this pattern, and some dispute this actually happens, but I tend to lean toward verifying it with the shelters and rescues themselves if there is a question of the veracity of their postings.

There are a myriad of reasons why surrendering occurs, and whether it’s out of convenience or need I would like to believe there is an emotional cost to the person having to make this terribly hard decision.

Some reasons are unavoidable such as a sudden illness and the need for hospitalization; sudden death and no one in the family can or desires to take the decedent’s pet; an opportunity to travel; a change in location that results in the inability to find a new home that will allow animals; a change in health, such as allergies developing, or a debilitating illness that disallows care to be given by the owner; the breakup of a family and the animal cannot be taken with either party; a change in work schedule that would leave the animal alone for extended periods of time; a change in income so appropriate care and/or feeding can no longer be provided to the animal; a new relationship in which one of the partners doesn’t match up well with the animal personality-wise or health-wise ( I know, I know…some would say “get rid of that partner” but that’s really sticky for anyone…); and on and on.

We cannot possibly predict what life will hand us and how our circumstances can change in a heartbeat. It’s for this reason it’s so important we reserve our judgement.

Having said this, however, it is incumbent upon us to really think hard BEFORE we decide to adopt a dog, or any animal for that matter whether we are currently healthy and stable in our lives or not.

Case in point: I currently have two dogs. One is thirteen years old, the other is approximately eight or nine years old. I am turning sixty this year, and my husband is sixty-two. Hopefully, both dogs continue to live healthy lives and end up passing on the high end of things; optimistically the youngest could live to maybe fifteen or a little past that. This means I will then be about sixty-six, and my husband will almost be seventy.

If we were to adopt another dog  after our youngest passes and that dog lives a normal life span (small dogs: thirteen to fifteen years, tops, and larger dogs perhaps anywhere from ten to fifteen, depending upon the breed and size) this means we could be well into our eighties when the dog passes.

Certainly the hope is we would be hale and hearty and outlive our beloved animals, but who can say? Realistically speaking, it’s so important to think about the possibilities of things happening and if something were to happen to us, we don’t have anyone who would be able to, or would be willing to, take the animals.

So is it really fair to the animal(s) to adopt?

Why risk the animal’s future if it can be avoided by a simple, common sense approach of just considering what can and often does happen in the aging population and making a plan for what would become of the animals?

I can honestly say I’m not ecstatic at the prospect of becoming an animal-free household one day, but I also know there are lots of ways I can find to continue have happy interactions with them without bringing them into our home to live.

Please, think and plan BEFORE you adopt an animal. Plan ahead for the unexpected. Put the animal’s well-being at the forefront before you make what can be an impulsive, emotional decision to bring it home with you.

1 Comment

  1. More and more of our non-litigation animal law work is drafting pet trusts for owners for when they can no longer care for their animals, either because of sickness, death or any reason. Having funds and plans put in place now secures the animal’s well being and lessens the burdens on family, future fosters or caregivers.

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