Congratulations on your decision to add a pet to the family! Pets bring so much joy and love, but deciding where to get your new pet and finding the right fit for your family can be stressful. The Juanita Hills Animal Hospital team wants to inform pet owners about all their options to help ensure they make the right decision and know how to integrate their new pet successfully into their homes. Here are some options for finding and choosing your best new pet.
#1: Animal shelter or pet rescue organization
Animal shelters and pet rescues are great options for finding a new pet. An animal shelter is often locally subsidized and houses homeless pets relinquished by their owners or lost pets found in the community. A rescue typically places pets from local shelters in foster care to help them adjust to home life and make space in the shelters. While some pets are relinquished to shelters for behavior issues, most are there because their previous owners could not care for them properly. You can find pets of all ages, breeds, and types through shelters and specialized rescues, including purebreds—check petfinder.com to see local pets available for adoption and organizations in your area.
Most shelters and rescues screen adopters thoroughly and take their time to match you with a pet that works for your lifestyle. Shelter staff will consider energy level, grooming needs, size, appearance, and health problems, so you find your perfect match.
#2: Pet foster parent
Fostering pets for a rescue can serve two purposes—you help rehabilitate a pet and prepare them for adoption, and you can also “pre-screen” the pets you take and decide if you’d like to keep one. After adopting a “foster fail,” you can continue to open your home to new fosters who will benefit from your experience. You may also know friends or family members who foster pets and may meet your perfect match when you visit or see their social media posts.
#3: Reputable pet breeder
If you know what you want exactly in a pet, such as a specific breed, you can purchase a pet from a breeder. But buyer beware—pet breeding is largely unregulated, and not all breeding operations are reputable. Always research breeders, ask for references, and chat with others who have purchased their pets. A good breeder will let you tour their premises and meet a pet’s parents, because they have nothing to hide. All breeders’ animals should appear healthy and clean, and interact with humans readily.
You should also thoroughly research your chosen breed to ensure they fit your lifestyle. If you select a breed based on looks, you could be dismayed later to learn their energy level is too high or low, their grooming requirements are too extensive, or certain expected health problems are too expensive to treat.
#4: Pet store
Pet stores are not the best places to purchase dogs or cats, but they can be good choices for a starter reptile or pocket pet. Animals should look healthy, their enclosures should be clean, and staff should be knowledgeable and able to answer your questions regarding care and housing. If you see puppies or kittens for sale in a large pet store, they likely come from large-scale breeding operations that often neglect their breeding animals, whom they consider only as a source of income. These pets can have multiple health issues, and your purchase may support puppy and kitten mills.
Conversely, your local pet store may work with rescues to temporarily house and feature adoptable pets who need homes, or host large community adoption events. These pets belong to the rescues, but the pet store gives them more exposure and a better chance of finding a home.
#5: Pet advertisement
If an advertisement for a free or low-cost pet on Craigslist or a social media channel seems too good to be true, it probably is. People may use ads to discard unwanted, unhealthy, and neglected animals who may not be a good fit for your family, or who could pose a behavioral risk. Do not meet someone in the Walmart parking lot for a new pet—rather, alert your local rescues about the ad. A rescue organization is better equipped to take in, house, evaluate, and rehabilitate unwanted pets, if necessary.
Choosing the right pet
Consider the following factors before deciding where to get your next pet:
- Cost — Pet adoption fees range from $50 to a few hundred dollars and include some primary medical care, while breeders may charge up to $5,000 or more and often do not include any medical care.
- Ethics — Do you want to give a homeless pet a loving home by adopting from a rescue or contribute to puppy mill breeding by purchasing from a pet store?
- Pet wishlist — A breeder is a good choice for people who know and love a specific breed, or want a pet for working, showing, or sports.
- Care needs — Are you willing to take on the uncertain care needs for a Craigslist pet, or do you want to know the pet you’re getting from the shelter?
Once you’ve welcomed a new pet into your home, we recommend a complete physical examination and consultation with our Juanita Hills Animal Hospital team, so we can evaluate your pet’s health and plan for their future needs. Contact us to schedule a visit, for pre-adoption or pre-purchase pet counseling, or to learn more about local rescue organizations and adoptable pets in our area.