Acquiring a pet is an important decision, and not always an easy one. 

According to Hope Brustein, executive director of Geauga Humane Society’s Rescue Village in Russell Township, and Sharon Harvey, president and CEO of the Cleveland Animal Protective League in Cleveland, families should research and reflect before getting a pet.

“Consider from your point of view what would make the perfect match,” Brustein said. “This would include thinking about things like if you’re home enough. Do you want a pet that is energetic or are you looking for a couch potato? Are you looking for a puppy? Are you elderly? Would a big dog knock you down? You need to know what’s best for you, your family and your lifestyle.”

Harvey said, “The biggest thing is if you’re going to have time to care for a new pet. What is your lifestyle and does your lifestyle support adding a pet to your family? And if so, then based on your lifestyle, what kind of pet would be the best fit?”

Families should consider how much time they spend away from home and how that could affect their pet.

“You have to look at your family and how much you travel, how much you work and what type of animal the people in your family may or may not relate the best to,” she said. “Everyone needs to come together and decide about this and make sure everyone is equally invested in bringing the pet home. This is another family member. It’s helpful that families let everyone take part in the decision.”

When it comes to considering a family’s need, Brustein said it should be up for discussion.

“If a family is living under one roof together, it means talking about what they all want in a pet,” she said. “If you’re looking for a running partner, you want to make sure it’s the kind of dog who can do that kind of thing and won’t be affected by the heat. But the good news is, as much as there is diversity in people, there is as much in animals.”

If a family already has pets, both professionals said it is important to also consider their needs and personalities.

“It’s very important to assess whether or not they have a dog or cat and if they have been exposed to other animals before and how those meetings have gone,” Harvey said. “If they don’t like other pets, that might not be the best idea. You’d want to choose a pet that doesn’t interact with the pet in question. If you already have a cat that is terrified of dogs, it’s not fair to put them through that.”

Brustein said, “People should definitely discuss their situation with an adoption counselor. If they have an old dog, sometimes it’s great to get a puppy. That livens them up and teaches the puppy too. If you have a pet that doesn’t do well with others, it’s best to leave those politics alone. It’s very important to talk about your current situation with your family. Lots of times, it works well to introduce another animal into your house.”

When adopting a new pet, both professionals said families should only take the plunge if the pet is what they want.

“There is definitely a click moment,” Brunstein said. “If a pet meets all of the criteria but it doesn’t make you think it’s the best, maybe it’s not the right way to go. Love definitely takes a little while, but this is a matter of the heart.”

Harvey said, “Some people come in and they’ve done lots of research. Other people come in and it’s love at first sight. Sometimes, the animal just spoke to them and the bond is immediate. Sometimes all the planning in the world can’t prepare you for those impulse decisions of the heart. But, it is important to remember those impulse decisions are for life.”

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