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He/she’s so adorable, but is it worth the responsibility?

March 4, 2011

Coraline!

I’m talking about pet adoption. Last September, the business manager at my office picked up a frightened little Burmese kitten that was hiding under a car tire outside of USC and brought her into the office. My boss fed her, made her a litter box with shredded paper and offered her a comfortable place to spend the day even though she was flea-ridden and filthy. My boss asked me to take the kitten to the Burbank No Kill Animal Shelter; but, to make a long story short, my boyfriend and I decided to adopt her instead.  With the help of my friend Marcia Rubin, we named her Coraline, who is now our happy and healthy, albeit spoiled, 7 month old kitten.

I absolutely love Coraline.  But adopting an animal is neither an easy nor inexpensive decision. So before you bring an animal companion into your life, consider the following:

Your Precious Money & Time

Because we adopted Coraline from the street, she needed all of her kitten shots, and to be spayed and microchipped. This meant a lot of trips to the vet.  Thankfully there are several low cost animal care organizations in Los Angeles. Still, the bills add up; and so does the time sitting in the vet’s office on your  Saturday mornings. Don’t forget to add $50-$100 to your monthly budget for  pet food, toys, treats and any unexpected expenses related to your pet’s health. A pet owner must also designate time every single day for play & exercise.

Travel Plans or Moving

Planning a weekend trip out of town or a summer vacation for a week or two?  Then someone needs to watch and care for your little one. If you’re lucky, a friend or family member will agree to help out. No matter what though, if you are out of town you should have always have a pet sitter on hand in case of emergencies. For each 30 minute, my pet sitter in Los Angeles charges about $20. It’s a priceless piece of mind to know our Cor is well cared for when we’re away.

If you plan on moving, never forget to include your pet in the plans. Make sure every apartment or house you look at accepts animals. Flying domestically with a pet is a fairly painless process. Most airlines charge $75- $100 per animal. Your pet will need a health certificate to board the plane and always remember to check with the airline you’re flying for the the latest rules and regulations. If you plan on moving abroad, much more preparation is needed to take your pet. If you have the money, there are companies like Air Animal or Pet Movers that will transport your animal from door to door internationally.

Companionship

There’s a reason why dogs (and cats!) are called a man’s best friend. Pets offer great companionship and unconditional love. Dogs live an average of 13 years while cats have an average life span of 12-21 years depending on health conditions and whether its indoor or outdoor.

Make sure to consider the life span of the animal you would like to adopt. Pets are a long term serious commitment, so if you are not into those or can’t commit right now, there are great ways you can still help out. Look for opportunities in your area to volunteer at a local animal shelter, sponsor a animal or donate to your favorite animal rescue organization.

Meow

Life Lessons

I think the best part of having a furry friend is the simple life lessons they teach you. Coraline (and all my pets throughout the years) have taught me to not sweat the small stuff and to truly live in the moment. She has taught me patience and responsibility  and can always make me smile. Right now, Coraline is sitting peacefully in front of the window on her cat tower basking in the sunlight.  I am so thankful we decided to keep her as a part of our family and I know how happy she is too.

To adopt an animal, make a game plan. Research what breeds would fit best into your lifestyle then make a list of animal shelters and adoption organizations in  your area. Call to find out if they have what your looking for or to find out the best times to go and meet the animals available. My boyfriend and I are in the process of adopting a companion for Coraline and found that Petfinder.com is not updated regularly. We did find websites for shelters through PetFinder to contact and visit, so its definitely been a good starting point.

A pet can be an wonderful addition to anyone or family, just make sure to take every factor into consideration. Please adopt instead of buy animals! Millions of animals at shelters need good homes. And remember to spay or neuter your cat or dog.

By Jenna Markowick

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