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Adopt, don’t shop: Top tips for adding the perfect pet to your family – PD Insurance

Looking to add a furry friend to the family? Adopting a cat or dog is one of the best ways of securing the pet love so many of us crave. Parenting one, however, is a long-term commitment so, whichever way you go about it, getting it right is crucial.

Always willing to lend a hand, pet insurance specialist PD Insurance got in touch with Country Retreat Animal Sanctuary north of Auckland and Kitty Kingdom in Wellington for top ideas to help those in search for the perfect adopted pet.

“It’s a bit like looking for a life partner,” smiles Michelle le Long, PD Insurance COO. “And in fact, that’s what your cats and dogs are – they’ll be with you for a good 15 or more years, so you want the best start and the right pet for your lifestyle.”

Adopting the perfect furry companion – Start with you

Helen Cook from Country Retreat Animal Sanctuary says your first considerations have less to do with a pet and more with your current lifestyle and expectations.

“The big question with a dog is ‘do you have time for one?’ They need training, exercising, socialisation, and daily playtimes,” she explains.

There is a commitment, in other words, that goes beyond cuddles and chilling on the couch, as real and ongoing effort is required to build a relationship with your pooch.

It’s similar for cats, though felines are more independent and less demanding on your time.

Kitty Kingdom’s Alice Tapp says the big issue is the time and money you’ll need to spend on a new pet, and asks, “Can you meet its needs? And if the kitty isn’t from a rescue, factor in the cost of desexing, vaccinations and microchipping.”

Financial commitments Then there’s the question of costs. As Cooks explains, “Food, vet bills, flea and worm treatments, vaccinations, beds, toys, boarding kennels if you go away, maybe doggy day care or a dog walker for the days you are busy. These expenses add up and you must be sure you have enough in the budget for proper care of your new pet.”

Even adoption costs money because shelters like Country Retreat and Kitty Kingdom invest in the pups and cats they look after. “Our adoption fees are $365, which goes towards desexing, vaccinations, microchipping, Council registration, and flea and worm treatments,” notes Cook.

Kitty Kingdom has a similar approach, with an adoption fee of around $250. “This covers desexing, microchipping and vaccination – cheaper than going to a vet,” Tapp confirms.

Even your housing situation is a crucial consideration; if you’re renting, a dog or cat could limit your chances of securing the right home. Some landlords don’t allow pets, and some properties just aren’t suitable if, for example, they lack suitable secure fencing.

The best breed for you

Mulled those issues over? Now it’s time for the fun stuff, finding the breed (and gender) best for you. Cook says her top guidelines include asking yourself what your plans are: looking for a family dog or cat? An agile, boisterous exercise companion? A couch potato? A guard dog who’s also a furry mate? A cat who’s happy with being cuddled often?

Also, how much daily pet food can you afford? What equipment will you need to keep it happy? What health conditions is your breed prone to and how much does treatment cost?

Think about your capabilities and past experiences with pets, and the breeds that appeal most to you. “Dogs, of course, come in all shapes and sizes. They also have different natures and behaviours, with most breeds being quite ‘true to type’,” Cook says.

By this, she means read up on the breeds catching your interest: beagles, for example, are described as kind-natured, gentle, wilful and naughty. So that’s likely to be your experience of a beagle.

It’s similar for cats, though with either pups or kitties there’s every chance you’ll need to compromise – adopting sometimes means choosing the best pet available, which might not be the exact breed you’re after.

The adoption process

Country Retreat’s process starts with an application form, explaining that all dogs are de-sexed. You’ll submit a video of your fencing and section (or a video call can do). From here, it’s time to meet the candidates.

A visit to the sanctuary doesn’t guarantee a pup, as Cook says the process includes an assessment of every applicant’s suitability for pet ownership. “We’re looking for a match that works for you and for the pup,” she explains.

Tapp says anyone interested can apply with their shelter. “Come spend time with the kittens and the kitten will pick you,” is her advice. From there, it’s a week’s trial, and the kitty is always welcome back to the Kingdom if they don’t fit in with the family.

And Tapp says adoption means a win for the pet, you and your family: “Please adopt, don’t shop. Support your local rescues.”

Look after your pets and your finances Cook points out the responsibilities of pet ownership can quickly become overwhelming, saying, “Vet bills can get into the thousands of dollars very quickly. You never want to be in the position of needing to choose between having to put your pet to sleep if necessary treatment costs more than you can afford.”

She therefore strongly recommends appropriate financial planning: “I always suggest that pet owners look at getting good pet insurance. It will save you money long term, while your pets will always get the best treatment they need.”


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