Adopting A New Pet From A Humane Shelter

The time is right, you’ve moved out of that cramped apartment and into your family’s first home. You’ve decided to add a pet to the family.

The family agrees we want to do the morally correct thing and save a life by adopting a puppy from the humane shelter across town.

Pie is all ready for Halloween.  Owning a pet is an important responsibility.
Pie is all ready for Halloween. Owning a pet is an important responsibility.

For $250.00, you can get the puppy, with its first vaccinations and already spayed or neutered. Your oldest child has her eye on a Basset-mix with the biggest brown eyes you’ve ever seen. You understand why she’s taken with this particular pup, but there are so many lovable, adorable puppies, it’s hard to choose.

Writing a $250.00 check and driving the puppy and happy children home isn’t the end of the story.

It is very much like when I was 14 and I had enough money to buy my neighbor’s nifty, thrifty Honda 50, but I couldn’t afford the insurance, tag or gasoline.

The same principle applies to the puppy. He’s a new family member, and, whether purebred or “pound puppy,” he’s an investment in love, time and money.

He will want to eat. Every day. Several times a day. And, the bigger the breed or mix, the more he will eat.

He will need to eliminate. And some of those eliminations won’t happen outdoors at first. Someone will have to clean those up. Are the kids really old enough to understand these concepts and help with the responsibilities?

Some of those eliminations won’t happen between the hours of 8 AM and 10 PM at first. Someone will have to get up in the middle of the night. Are the kids really old enough?

Some communities’ veterinarians cooperate in a program of free initial visits during a specified limited time after adoption. Here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, participating doctors usually provide a physical examination on the first office visit, and a stool test at no charge. We are not reimbursed for the time and supplies, it is our donation for each adoption, and its value is about $70.00. If your pet has ear, skin, eye, gastrointestinal or other medical problems, the cost for diagnostics and medication will be your responsibility.

Pets from most shelters will have to have one to three additional vaccination visits after leaving the shelter, depending on age. You will need to budget for the cost of those visits.

Monthly, every month, for a lifetime, your pet cat or dog will need heartworm preventive and flea control/prevention.

At least annually, he will need a physical examination, vaccinations, heartworm test (for dogs) and stool test for intestinal parasites.

Dogs and cats, like us, sometimes get sick. They can develop preventible problems, such as diarrhea from eating “people food,” and injuries from roaming the neighborhood or getting in the street. But some medical problems are not preventible, such as diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, cancer, Cushing’s disease, old age, the list is nearly endless. Chronic illnesses such as these can run up huge bills, making you wish you’d taken out that insurance policy the shelter’s counselor discussed with you.

Before adopting, you need to be aware of these duties, costs and responsibilities that you can expect along with love, companionship and endless kisses.

A new puppy or kitten can be great fun, provide unforgettable memories, and warm a place in your heart no other creature can reach. But, like some of real life, it’s not all fun and games. Ask your pet’s doctor for advice before and during the decision-making process of adoption.

You are bringing a new member into the family: a serious proposition.

See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.

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