Planning on a pet?

By Jill McKenzie

June 22, 2017 12:00 AM

Pets can be an essential part of the family.
Just about all of us have fond memories of a childhood pet and playmate of some sort.
Beyond companionship, having a pet teaches children responsibility, encourages compassion, and may even help prevent some allergies.
If your kids are begging you for an animal to care for, all of the positives make it a hard proposition to resist.
There are many benefits to having a pet, and if the right one comes your way, it is wonderful to welcome a new member into the family.
Too often, though, families don’t take the time to evaluate whether an animal fits their lifestyle.
As well, leaping into pet ownership without fully considering the cost is folly.
No matter how alluring the idea of a pet might be, there are a number of things to save for before you take responsibility for another life.
All creatures, big and small cost money.
Before beginning to discuss what kind of a pet to get, you must first sit down and decide what you can realistically afford.
Being led by your heart, or your kid’s, can lead to heartache if you find that a huge purebred dog and his vet and feed bills are bankrupting you.
If you’re trying to keep a low budget, you might go the route of a fish.
After the initial costs of setting up an aquarium, which you might find used, remember you will still have filters to buy and a tank to keep clean.
Plus, you can’t hug a fish.
Pets also take time.
Have you got the time and patience to house train a puppy?
Or is the more aloof and independent house cat a better choice?
Do you work long hours, and will the animal be alone too much?
Before you commit to the care of a beast, large or not, have you considered how it will affect your vacation plans?
Have you got someone to do your chores while you are away?
And what of containment?
Will you need to build a fence, in the case of an acreage owner that desires a horse or some sheep or goats?
Where will you get your winter feed?
Will these animals eventually need to be sheared, shoed, or sheltered?
Who will do this, and how much will it cost?
Are you comfortable taking on these tasks yourself?
And what of transport?
Do you need a trailer, if you’ve gone big?
Will you need help training your pet?
If your kids are horse crazy, perhaps it is best to find someone with horses and give the kids a chance to work with large animals before you commit to the work and expense of keeping your own.
Man’s best friend
There’s no denying the comfort and companionship of a dog.
Before you consider bringing one into your family, though, have a realistic look at what feeding and housing the animal is going to cost.
Many breeds have had costly medical conditions bred into them.
Have you researched the common problems that come with that expensive pedigree?
Are you passionate enough about the dog to sacrifice vacations and shopping trips down the road if you end up with enormous vet bills?
Or would you give a mixed breed from a shelter a chance at a new life?
No matter how you slice it, there are costs associated with getting a pet.
If you are unsure of making that commitment, there are still ways you and your kids can get involved with animals.
Volunteer, pet-sit, dog-walk
A great way for a family to decide if pet ownership is right for them is to look after a neighbour’s animal while they are away.
Do you find it rewarding?
Or does the responsibility cramp your style?
If the kids can’t be bothered it is a good indication of what will happen when the new wears off a pet of their own.
The SPCA offers many opportunities for volunteers, from helping with fundraising to walking dogs or fostering animals that await adoption.
Animal-loving kids could also ask for donations to the SPCA in lieu of birthday gifts—these kinds of actions exemplify a child committed to loving and caring for a pet long-term. If your child is serious and passionate about getting an animal, it can be a tremendously enriching experience for him or her—and one that deserves a spot in your family’s budget.
There is no denying the joy a pet can provide. For many families, saying goodbye to an old pet is devastating.
When considering adding to your family, you must realize the costs and sacrifices that come with the fun and games. Choose a pet that you can afford to care for over the long-term, and enjoy every minute of that special bond.

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