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At the Humane Society of Parkersburg we are lucky enough to witness the excitement that accompanies animals being adopted first hand. Sometimes, when looking into the eyes of that special animal, it is hard to step back from your emotions and really think about what adoption might mean in your life. That is why we would like to give prospective adopters a few things to consider before making that big decision.


Adoption means to permanently accept the new companion animal into one’s life - which includes sickness and health, good times and bad, and through all the changes of life.  Choosing the right pet should always means identifying the type of animal that matches your lifestyle.  Luckily we have so many wonderful animals that it's hard to imagine that we cannot find just the perfect animal to match your needs. 


Things you should factor into your decision should include:

  • An animal’s size

  • Exercise requirements

  • Friendliness

  • Assertiveness

  • Compatibility with children

  • Other pets

  • The financial commitment involved in owning that pet

Time:  Do you have enough of it?

If you're home all day and have the time and energy, a young puppy could be just what you need to complete your life.   If you work long hours or travel frequently, a young puppy or dog would likely be the worst choice possible.  Dogs are social creatures and should not be left alone for long periods. Dogs need regular exercise.  Depending on the breed of the dog, you may need to take your dog for several walks a day.  You would also want to devote time to socializing, training, grooming and playing with your dog. This can be great fun but is also time consuming. Remember, the more you put into your dog, the more you will get back.


Cats are generally more independent than dogs and the average adult cat can cope far better with being left for longer periods. Kittens do well alone too but they may need a little more attention until they are older.  We all know they can get into mischief.   If you work and the cat is going to be left during the day, it is important that you commit time in the evenings to playing with and mentally stimulating your cat. There are plenty of fantastic cat toys on the market that are great fun for your cat, but there is no substitute for “people time”. 

You will want to consider how a dog, cat or other small animal will fit in around family members - particularly children and other pets.  Some animals love the natural exuberance of small children, while others prefer a more predictable environment. Giving a home to a shelter animal is one of the most rewarding experiences a person can have.  However, it is important to know and feel that you are ready to take on the commitment of another life -- a life that will be totally dependent on you for up to 15 years.  Owning a pet doesn’t always come naturally and you need to be prepared to dedicate time and patience to training it. Animals that are untrained or are not mentally stimulated can develop behavior problems, which can make it challenging to enjoy your pet.


Choosing the right pet for you

Although there are generalizations that can be made about dog behavior or cat behavior, each animal has its own personality and preferences.  Because of this, you need to spend time with any prospective pet to learn more about its personality and how they might fit with your lifestyle and in your home.   A few do’s and don’ts include:

  • Do spend time visiting with our animals before making a selection.  If it’s a dog that can go outside for a walk or to play, please do so.  If it’s a cat, take time to open the door, handle and pet it and play with it to see how it responds. 

  • Do ask the staff about the pet you are interested in to learn more about it.

  • Do bring your whole family to meet the animal and interact with it before selection. This should be a family decision!

  • Do bring your dog to the Shelter to meet a prospective dog before taking the new pet home.  Meeting on neutral territory can make it much easier for you when you take your new dog home.

  • Don’t base your final decision on how the animal looks, its breed or size.   Animals can have as varied personalities as people do. 

  • Don’t think that how the animal is acting in the cage or kennel is how they will act when they get home.  They are typically overstimulated in the Shelter and under-exercised.


Is This The Best Time To Adopt A Pet?

Pets add fun, companionship and love to our lives!  But they also add responsibility.  Choosing to add a pet to your family is a very important decision.  And timing can be extremely important in this decision-making.  Sometimes the time is just ideal and at others, adopting a pet may be too much added responsibility especially if you’re experiencing other life-changes at the same time.  Assess what’s happening in your life now and in the near future, to help you decide when is the best time to adopt a pet.


While you can't deny the cuteness and fun of a young puppy, sometimes they can be more challenging and require more attention than your life may allow.  If you don’t have time for housebreaking and training that may take weeks if not months, you might want to consider adopting an older pet or not adopting until you have the time to dedicate to this important task.   People often think you can't bond with an older pet, when in fact they are normally easy to bond with and train because they have much more focused attention spans than young puppies. 


We want you to be realistic about your pet search AND we also want you to get excited!  Finding that special animal to add to your family is a wonderful thing and knowing that you have given a shelter animal a second chance is a very rewarding feeling.  So if the time is right and you're ready for that special being to join your life, get excited!   And get ready to fall in love!

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