Consumer Watch: Prepping to become a pet parent

How to tell if you are ready to adopt a pet. (Sinclair Broadcast Group)

Pets should be a lifelong commitment, and asking yourself some important questions could keep you from having to make a painful decision down the road.

Adopting a dog or cat to become a part of your family is a noble move, but there are financial and emotional components that are important to consider. Casey Basgall has been with her dog Cisco for seven years, and their time together is special, but there were surprises early on.

“(I was surprised by) how needy he was. I was just use to having a cat, so having a dog who needs your constant presence was a big surprise to me,” says Basgall.

According to the ASPCA, the first year of having a dog can cost anywhere between one thousand and two thousand dollars depending on size and needs. After that, the cost drops by about half of that amount per year for every year of the dog’s life, barring any unexpected health emergencies. Cats are less expensive but only slightly. Their yearly cost sits at between 800 and one thousand dollars.

There are ways to cut the cost of the first year, including adopting from places like your local animal shelter or the Central Oklahoma Humane Society. These organizations spay and neuter their dogs and cats as a part of the adoption process.

“Everybody wants that perfect dog but dogs take work, And to get that perfect dog may take you two years from puppyhood, or you could come in and adopt a senior dog, and you've got him right by your side immediately,” says Dana McCrory, president and CEI of the Central Oklahoma Humane Society

McCrory says it is also important to ask yourself what your needs are before picking a pet. Shelter staff can often help point you in the right direction. Things to consider include: How often are you home? How much do you travel? Are you looking for an outdoor companion or a lap buddy? How much free time are you willing to devote to training?

Cats are more low maintenance when it comes to training. Dogs may need more time and attention while they get use to new surroundings. Thinking about whether you are financially ready will ensure that any pet you adopt will have their forever home.

If you find that at this point you are not financially or emotionally ready for a pet, there are other options. Community animal welfare offices and the Central Oklahoma Humane Society are always looking for volunteers and have fostering opportunities as well.

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