Author & Illustrator
Emmaline and the Bunny

Kittens and puppies (and bunnies, birds, mice, guinea pigs, ferrets, hamsters and all sorts of animals) are so cute….But having a pet’s a responsibility. When you adopt an animal, you are promising to take care of that creature. Once you take it home, you’re responsible for its life, its health, and a lot of its happiness. Only adopt an animal if you know you can afford it—that you have the money to pay for all the care it will need, and that you have the time to play with and love it.

Here are some issues and expenses to consider before adopting a pet:

1. Please adopt from an animal shelter or a rescue organization. Adopt animals that already exist and need a good home.

2. Spay or Neuter. You must neuter or spay your cat or dog. There are many reasons for this: male animals are more aggressive, more likely to fight and mark (meaning they’ll mess up your home) if they are not neutered. Female animals in heat…well, it isn’t fun. Females will continue to go into heat regularly, too, until they are spayed. But most especially, there’s this: the world has too many kittens and puppies who need homes already. Please don’t add to the number by leaving your animal unspayed or unneutered. Everyone, including your cat or dog, will be happier if you spay or neuter him or her.

3. Vaccinations and Medical Care. In Iowa, you are required to get your pet vaccinated for rabies. If your pets go outside, you’ll want other vaccinations, too, like those for distemper and feline leukemia. Dogs need heartworm medication, you’ll want to use topical applications for killing fleas and ticks, and teeth cleaning should be done periodically (because it not only helps pets keep their teeth, but all kinds of diseases in animals are linked to unhealthy teeth and gums). Then there is the cost of care for injuries and illness, which happens to even the best cared-for pets. All this is expensive.

4. Food. You’ll need to purchase food, good quality food, so your pet stays healthy. There are some great dry foods, and your vet can make a recommendation (you don’t have to buy wet food, but your pet will love it).

5. Stuff. Depending on the type of pet you have, you may also need to purchase a leash, collar, kennel, litter box, litter, toys, a cage, bedding, etc. You will also have to pay for an animal-sitter or boarding when you go away.

6. Time and Attention. Your pet will need you to play with it, walk it, handle it, clean up after it, and spend time with it every day. That’s part of the responsibility, too, because you will be your pet’s beloved person.

This is an incomplete list, but I’ll bet you get the picture…having a pet isn’t cheap or easy, but it’s wonderful. So, before you adopt a pet, make sure that you can afford the money and time to take care of it.

Finally, if you do adopt an animal and then find that you can’t take care of it, you must never ever ever release it into the wild or abandon it. No domestic animal (including cats, rabbits, ferrets, pet mice, etc.) can live on its own for long. Not only will it not survive, but it will be confused and terrified. It may starve, freeze, die of illness, or be attacked and killed by other animals. Don’t do what was done to Julius and the other sad strays I’ve known.

If you find you cannot care for your pet, please take it to a pet rescue organization, a no-kill shelter, or find another home for it on your own. Someone will, eventually, want to give your pet a new and loving home. Be a great person to your pet, even if you can’t be its owner anymore.

Helpful web sites: