Adopting a Pet, from Life in the USA: The Complete Guide for Immigrants and Americans

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Life in the USA
American Community
Pets

Adopting a Pet
This section courtesy of Wendy Vega

Americans love their pets. We consider them part of our family. Sometimes we spend hundred of dollars to buy purebred animals from breeders or pet stores. Many of these dogs and cats are fine, but many are not healthy. Puppy mills breed dogs in small spaces with little freedom. Sometimes animals are inbred, which can cause weakness in the gene pool.

The best way to find a healthy, loving pet is to visit the Humane Society in your area. There are millions of wonderful animals looking for homes, and most have been checked over by veterinarians. There is usually a small adoption fee that goes towards neutering or spaying your little friend. The people at the Humane Society will also ask some questions to make sure their animal is going to a home that is safe and secure, healthy and loving. They may ask if you have children or other animals, and how those animals might relate to a new friend. They may ask if you will keep the animal inside or outside. And they will probably ask you NOT to declaw your new kitty.

When adopting, don't forget that down the road there will be veterinarian bills. Kitties and puppies need their shots and check-ups, just like children. There may flea or dental problems. Of course, as your pet ages, it may have medical problems. Will you be able to afford health care if the need arises?

As far as visiting the veterinarian, your pets probably won't enjoy the trip, so make it as stress free as possible. Pick a vet that is gentle and caring. Ask your friends for recommendations. Ask your vet how much money each procedure will cost so you won't get an unhappy surprise when you see the bill. For instance, cutting a pet's nails can cost more than having your own manicure, so you might want to do that yourself. And decide how far you are willing to go to save your pet if they get really sick. When you get home from the vet, be sure a give your pet a little treat to show them how well they behaved and how proud you are of them.

Dogs need to be bathed and groomed occasionally. Cats hate water and usually groom themselves, but they can be groomed if need be. Vets tell you to brush your pet's teeth. That's great advice if they'll let you in. Mine won't. Instead I take them for a vet cleaning once a year or so. Animals have dental problems just as we do, though some dry foods help with tartar buildup.

Having a pet is one of life's greatest pleasures. The way to spend the most quality time with them is to make sure they are healthy and happy at the start. Enjoy!


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