- Getting a Pet

Pets can be cute, fun, playful, loving, useful, and offer us companionship and protection. They can provide us with a connection to our fellow creatures and nature. They can accompany us on walks, be fun companions to play with, be entertaining to watch, and give us something to care for. They can teach children to take responsibility. It is no wonder that so many of us have pets or want one (or more).

In the photograph Boots is trying to get Tuff to play with her. He, having little or no experience with cats that don't run, doesn't quite know what to do with her, but she keeps trying to entice him into playing.

Pets are easy to get; sometimes too easy. There are strays you can adopt, animals in shelters that need homes, free puppies and kittens being given away, and every breed of dog or cat available from breeders. All breeds are different, however, especially in dogs; and some may have just the personality you want, while others may not. For a run-down on different breeds, visit: http://www.iams.com/


There is a website which has links to many adoption groups, offers information and advice on adopting a pet, "Learn before you adopt," and allows you to post a pet classified ad: http://www.petfinder.com

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the ASPCA, was the first humane organization in the western hemisphere. "Our mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States," said its founder, Henry Bergh,

in 1866. Their website offers the "Top 10 Tips for adopting the perfect family pet," and a wealth of information about getting and caring for pets. They urge people to get pets by adopting an animal that needs a home: "Make pet adoption your first option.” http://www.aspca.org

For children who want pets, ask them to consider that pets are a responsibility, not a toy that can be played with and then put back in the toy box. It is a responsibility that can last 15 years or more.

Never ask, beg or plead for an animal that you can't take care of! If your parents do not agree to provide, vet care, regular shots, vaccinations, flea control, and the fee for spaying or neutering, DO NOT ASK FOR A PET!

If you do not want to take responsibility for a pet by training them, walking a dog, playing with them, being patient with them, making sure they have clean water and food in clean bowls, making sure the cat box is kept clean, or giving a dog regular baths, DO NOT ASK FOR A PET!

One of the most useful websites is Petvideo. It has 200 short, entertaining and educational videos on adopting pets and other topics. Some of its most helpful videos concern training pets and include such topics as keeping cats (and also dogs) from getting up on your kitchen counters, keeping cats from using your furniture as scratching posts, house training and other issues. http://www.petvideo.com
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