Whether you're picking which movie you want to watch or deciding what to make for dinner, some decisions don't require much consideration. But, the decision to adopt a pet certainly does.
National Adopt A Shelter Pet Day is April 30 and what better way to celebrate than by saving a life and gaining a new best friend? If you're considering adopting, it's important to remember that a new pet is a huge responsibility. But if done correctly and with proper timing, it can be the best decision you've ever made.
Because there are so many things a first-time adopter may not even think to research before bringing home a furry friend, we've compiled a list of things to consider:
What bills and fees could I be facing?
If you're thinking about adopting a pet like a cat or a dog, expect to spend between $1,100 and $3,200 during the first year, the ASPCA estimates. That includes the adoption fee, the cost of spaying or neutering your pet (if it wasn’t already done by the welfare organization), food, vaccinations, supplies, bedding and crates.
“First-year fees are often quite high because you are buying all the things you need and over time there are less of those things that pop up,” says Christa Chadwick, vice president of shelter services at the ASPCA.
After that, you should be prepared to spend anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000 on your pet per year, New Jersey-based certified financial planner Eve Kaplan estimates, based on years of working with clients who own pets.
In addition to things like food and grooming, annual costs include physical exams and vaccines. You should also be prepared for unplanned veterinary costs over your pet’s lifetime.
"All you need to have is one or two medical crises and all of a sudden that budget is blown up and you are spending $5,000 or $10,000 or more in veterinary bills," Kaplan says.
What's the length of the commitment?
Many first-time pet owners become distracted by the excitement of a new puppy or kitty and are only thinking about how that animal will fit their lives in the short term. However, it's important to keep in mind that adopting a pet means committing to caring for it for years to come.
“Cats and dogs are generally with you for upwards of 10 or more years and sometimes at the point of adoption folks aren’t considering that long-term investment,” says Chadwick.
If you want a companion but aren't prepared for a long-term commitment, consider adopting an older pet or an animal with a shorter lifespan, like a betta fish or hamster.
Which pet will best suit my lifestyle?
Deciding on which pet is best suited for you goes beyond choosing between a dog or a cat. Other important factors to consider are breed, size and age. Would you want a puppy that will one day grow to be 90 pounds if you live in a studio apartment? Would you want an older dog with back problems if you live in a house with stairs? Do you need a hypoallergenic pet if someone in your household is allergic?
Additionally, consider if the timing is even right for you. Do you have plans to travel a lot soon? Do you have a big move coming up? Are you undergoing any major lifestyle changes? Rescuing a pet from a shelter can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but only if you're ready for the responsibilities associated with it. If the timing isn't right, consider holding off for a few weeks or months and reassessing down the line.
While it may be tempting to pick the cutest pet you see, be sure to do your research on the breed and determine if that animal will actually be a good fit for your lifestyle.
How will I know when I've found the perfect match?
As the saying goes: when you know you know. When it comes to finding the perfect fit for you and your family, don't force it. Sometimes you'll need to meet a few different animals or even visit a few different shelters before finding the perfect animal to fit your lifestyle.
Luckily, there are many animal shelters across South Florida, all full of furry friends waiting for their forever home. Here are some great places to start your search in South Florida:
- Humane Society of Broward County: 2070 Griffin Road Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33312, (954) 989-3977
- Humane Society of Greater Miami: 10700 SW 211 St, Cutler Bay, FL 33189, (305) 696-0800
- Abandoned Pet Rescue: 1137 NE 9th Ave, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304, (954) 728-9010
- Saving Sage Animal Rescue Foundation: 2875 W Broward Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312 # (954) 530-1508
- Animal Aid: 571 NE 44th St, Oakland Park, FL 33334, (754) 223-5378
- Paws 2 Care Coalition: 6219 Johnson St, Hollywood, FL 33024, (305) 525-3297