Thinking about adding to the family with a furry (or scaly) friend? Pets do a good job of bringing families closer together and can enrich the lives of their owners in so many ways. People who have a pet (or two, or menageries!) are often happier and healthier than those without. (Check out our post about the health benefits of pets by clicking here.) But they’re always a huge responsibility.
It’s important to get the whole family on the same page when thinking about getting a pet. Consider the following before you decide:
- Can you afford a pet? The initial expense of buying or adopting a pet can run the gamut from free to thousands of dollars, but all pets have ongoing costs. Food, veterinary and medical bills, insurance, litter, licensing and grooming can add up quickly. And then add in food dishes, cages, leashes, collars, toys and all those other accessories. The ASPCA estimates the average annual cost of a medium-sized dog, cat or rabbit is in the $700 range – and that doesn’t include the initial purchase of the pet or any one-time items. Visit their site for more info.
- What kind of pet best suits your family? The size of your home, yard and family all play a factor in whether you’ll be bringing home a puppy, goldfish or a horse. Consider the demeanor and age of your children (younger or more active children may have a hard time being gentle with a new pet and need a more sturdy companion who can handle some light rough-housing) and your lifestyle (would the pet be left for long periods of time? do you travel often?) before deciding.
- Where would you get your pet? Breeders, adopting from the shelter or purchasing from a pet store are all options – and may depend on the type of pet your family chooses. Adopting can be a great experience – and give you the opportunity to provide a good, happy home to an animal in need. Many shelters are home to more than cats and dogs as well – check out your local shelter for more info. Shelter workers are familiar with the animals’ personalities and can help match the right pet to the right family. Visit the Bangor Humane Society website.
Pets can help teach responsibility to children and provide the world’s best friend and companion. But it should be a family decision as you may be living with your new buddy for the 15 years or more!