Bringing a pet into your home is a wonderful thing. It creates a bond between animal and owner that can contribute to a healthier and happier lifestyle. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says having a pet can lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, increase exercise and allow you to spend more time socializing.
Whether it's a cat, dog, bird, snake or something else, pets can make your life better. However, where you buy your pet matters. Supporting organizations and breeders that provide appropriate care for animals is important.
According to The Washington Post and the Simmons National Consumer Study, 53 percent of households own pets. That translates to somewhere around 77 million dogs and 54 million cats, not to mention all the other family pets out there.
While some of these pets probably came from the neighborhood pet store, that's not the only place you should look for your four-legged friends. In fact, some organizations will tell you to avoid the pet shop altogether.
Before finding the right place to get your new pet, it's best to assess what kind of pet is right for your home. According to David F. Kramer on PETMD, “We all want our pets to be healthy and content, and an apartment may not always provide for that."
Take stock of breed size, energy level and the necessities for any particular pet to live a happy and healthy life. Make sure your home can accommodate those needs. Then, begin the search for the newest member of your family.
Your best options for finding the right dog is to contact shelters or find a responsible breeder. Decide which breeds are right for you first. If you live in an apartment, make sure, “to consider your neighbors when choosing a dog. You'll want a dog that doesn't bark incessantly and is polite when meeting other people," advises the American Kennel Club.
Adopting from a shelter doesn't rule out finding a purebred dog. They do end up in shelters along with mixed breeds. You can even check to see if a breed-specific rescue group, for your preferred breed, is in your area.
Working with a responsible breeder to get the exact pup you're looking for means finding someone who creates a loving and healthy environment for their dogs. Ask to see where the dogs live before taking a puppy home. Ask questions, and make sure you know the pup's parents are also treated well.
The Humane Society estimates there are 30-40 million unowned cats living outdoors in the U.S. These cats are a combination of feral and unwanted cats who get lost or abandoned.
Adopting your cat from a shelter frees up space for another one of these community cats to get rescued and adopted. If you're looking for a kitten, any time between May and October will give you lots of options. Facilities can get overrun with sweet, little babies during these months.
Narrow down your cat search with online resources like Petfinder or Adopt-a-Pet. Sites like these feature directories from a large number of shelters and adoption organizations across the country. Focus your search on adoption rather than purchasing a cat to bring home a furry friend in need.
The best way to dodge the pet store when filling up your fish tank is to go pro. Visit a specialty, aquatic store for a great selection, more knowledgeable employees and better fish care.
Stores like these even let you return fish if they outgrow your tank. They'll take them back and care for them. The expert advice you can find in these stores will help you, regardless of tank size, have a thriving community.
For either of these pets, breeders are the best source for finding the right animal. For birds, breeders who do things right offer a more personalized level of service. They take the time to socialize their birds, which makes them friendlier. Birds are also less expensive when bought from breeders, as well. There's no retail markup.
One of the best places to talk to reptile breeders is at your local reptile expo. These events combine the best of all reptile-buying worlds. Experts are on hand, and you can meet the country's top breeders in person. You can also inspect an animal before purchasing.
Surprisingly, all types of pets end up in shelters. When in doubt, they're the best place to look for any pet first. Even if you don't think a rescue organization will have something like a hamster or iguana, think again.
Before you visit a pet store, check local rescue operations and consider pet adoption.