So you’ve decided you want a pet — congratulations! Pets are endless sources of joy. Furthermore, they are good for your health. According to the American Heart Association, pet ownership is associated with both reduced heart disease risk factors as well as greater longevity. Dogs help keep you active as you venture out on walks and play dates in the park together. But don’t discredit cats — spending time around frisky felines reduces stress and anxiety, enhances positive emotions, and lowers your risk of cardiovascular disease.
If this is your first time adopting a pet, you may be nervous, and that’s okay! Adopting a four-legged (or three-legged) friend is a huge responsibility. Any nerves you feel simply show that you’re aware of the endeavor you’re about to take on. If you prepare both yourself and your home, however, you can make the process seamless and start enjoying the benefits of pet ownership as soon as possible.
Adopt Don’t Shop
You may have a specific breed of cat or dog in mind. However, adopting a purebred animal comes with a lot of drawbacks. First of all, it’s expensive. Adopting a French bulldog (one of the most popular breeds) can cost you thousands if you get them from a reputable dealer. Chances are, however, that any purebred you buy either comes in through a puppy mill or some other dubious enterprise. Furthermore, purebred dogs have an increased risk of inherited diseases as well as heightened health issues such as hip dysplasia and patellar luxation.
If you adopt from a shelter, you may not get the exact breed you’re looking for. However, you will save a life while obtaining a forever friend that is grateful for your companionship. Shelter dogs and cats are typically mixed breeds and tend to have fewer health issues than purebreds. Furthermore, adopting from a shelter is much more affordable than buying a pet. Adoption fees are minimal — you may even be able to find a pet with the fee waived — and pets typically come fixed with their updated shots and some training already acquired. Some shelter pets are older, so if you choose to adopt an elderly pet, make sure to make any necessary modifications to your apartment.
One of the best things about adopting from a shelter is the volunteers and workers are committed to finding the best pet for your situation. Remember: there’s no need to pick out a dog or cat upon your first visit. Rather, make an appointment with an adoption agent and talk with them about what you are looking for, your lifestyle, and your history with animals. Furthermore, they can educate you about what it takes to be a pet parent, the supplies you’ll need, and resources you can use while you’re getting the hang of pet ownership. Your perfect pet may not be in the shelter today, but in time, the right furbaby will come through those doors and you’ll be ready to scoop them up and take them home.
Preparing for Your Pet
Getting your apartment ready really depends on what type of pet you plan to adopt. Obviously, you don’t need a litter box if you’re getting a Chihuahua or a leash if your getting a cat. Besides the basics you’ll need to get — food and water bowls, treats, a comfortable bed, etc. — think about the activities you want to do with your pet.
Living in New York, you’re going to have to take your dog on frequent walks. Be sure to get a durable harness and leash that allows you to hit the pavement without putting undue stress on your pup’s neck. Furthermore, always stay stocked with plastic bags to pick up after your dog. According to Section 161.03 of the New York City Health Code, owners must pick up after their dogs “on a sidewalk of any public place, on a floor, wall, stairway or roof of any public or private premises used in common by the public, or on a fence, wall or stairway of a building abutting on a public place.”
Pet ownership is rewarding, but it’s also a responsibility. Instead of supporting questionable breeders, adopt your dog or cat. You’ll save lives and gain a friend that is truly grateful for your care. Talk to an adoption expert at your local shelter to get the best match for your life. While you wait to adopt, start stocking up on the things you need for your apartment so your furbaby can come home as soon as possible.