Pet adoption is a personal question. It comes down to your lifestyle.

Be aware of your stability in life and what adopting a pet means to you.

You must be able to discern the qualities you desire from a new dog or cat.

Consider these questions RE: adopting a pet before we get any deeper.

Would you be happy with a senior (they tend to be snuggle buddies)?

Can you accept the fact that a shelter dog might NOT be house trained?

Do you already have a pet (if so, mention this first so you don't waste your time)?

What are your must-have pet traits (be selective) and nice-to-have's (make a big list)?

Can you afford to adopt (account for food, supplies, medicine, and other pet care expenses)?

If the losing game show buzzer blared inside your mind, maybe find another way to help animals.

That said, let's dive deep into the multifaceted question on your mind: "To adopt or not to adopt?"

Visit rescues and animal shelters.

Rescue pets are the best pets, because they know you saved them, and never stop repaying you in love and kindness.

Animal shelters and rescues have an array of animals with different breeds, backgrounds, and behavioral characteristics.

Rescues and shelters are better than breeders since you get to save a homeless animal and reduce pet overpopulation, which is harmful to everyday dogs and cats.

Adopting from a rescue or shelter places the animals in a much better living environment. Plus shelters and rescues will have more capacity to care for other displaced pets.

Imagine photographing the freedom ride home. Or filming it live on Facebook while everybody declares you the greatest hero alive in the comments section (sue me, I'm dramatic).

Make a list of essential attributes.

Shelters hate it when a dog leaves for their "forever home" to much fanfare and gets returned the next day.

It's usually due to the dog being untrained in some aspect and an adopter is busy or has no interest in the responsibility.

This ordeal is easy to avoid when you have a list of must-haves and nice-to-haves. Choose a dog or cat based on your criteria.

If you work from home and need stillness to function, an energetic herding dog wouldn't be a logical choice. Senior dogs might be sensible, or cats in general.

Got kids with high energy and activity needs? In that scenario, the very same dog may be the rational choice, especially if your house has a big fenced in yard.

We'd be here for hours if I walked you through every conceivable adoption situation.

The key point = one dog was the "right" and "wrong" decision for two different people.

Consider your moods, tastes, preferences, and personality traits to find a pet that fits you.

Self awareness is hard, but completely necessary for this part of the animal adoption process.

Fill in breed and age knowledge gaps.

No two animals are exactly alike. Do your research and due diligence.

Kittens must be cared for differently than adults.

Understand the distinctions before you take a kitten home.

Also, senior dogs and cats have more health risks than young ones, so brace for vet bills.

Ask the shelter staff if they're aware of an animal's medical history.

If so, make notes about important stuff to discuss with a veterinarian in the near future.

If not, which is entirely possible, swing by a vet soon and let them inspect your pet for any issues.

They're family, so care for them as you would a dependent child, because they are counting on you.

Also, before selecting a dog or cat, do a Google search for terms like "breed personality" and "health conditions."

Skim relevant articles to confirm there aren't any red flags like a high energy dog you'd have to keep in a crate all day.

Determine if now is a good time to adopt.

Analyze your living situation before making the decision to adopt a pet.

Pets are awesome. They make life more complete. But some people aren’t in a good spot to adopt a dog or cat at this time. Financial limitations are a common reason.

If your poor baby gets sick and you can't afford it, they will become a major stress source. Or you could return them to the shelter and feel guilty for the rest of your life. See how there are no good options here?

Discuss adoption with all affected parties.

The idea of adopting a kitten makes your heart skip a beat... but how about your allergic roommate?

Despite walking over a hundred shelter dogs, I don't have a dog at home. Why not?

Currently living with my father, who has allergies. The hair would drive him crazy. He'd never stop sneezing.

Dad is also scared of dogs (don't ask why -- he says they're pretty every time I show him photos of the ones I walk).

I look forward to the day when a new dog makes sense. But that day isn't today. And I'm fine with waiting until the time is right.

Is it the right time for you to adopt?

Be honest. If the answer is "not right now," you can rescue a dog or cat in the future.

You can still help your local animal shelter and the pets they serve in other ways.

Share this article with any friends or family who might want to adopt a pet soon.

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