For animal lovers, bringing home a new pet means welcoming a new member to the family. It's fun and exciting--and a big responsibility. There are a number of things that you can do to help make your adoption a success.
Before You Adopt
Before you even begin looking for a pet, it is a good idea to have a general idea what kind of animal you are looking for. Where you live, how much time and energy you are willing to spend on care and exercise, and how you expect your new pet to fit into your lifestyle are all factors that should be considered. Ask yourself if you want your pet to be an inside or an outside pet (or a combination of both). Do you want a pet who will enjoy traveling with you (most cats won't), or do you need a pet who will be compatible young children or with animals you already have? Asking these questions beforehand can make the search for a pet easier and make it more likely that your adoption will be a successful one. It is also very important to have realistic expectations of what life with your new pet will be like. For people with prior pet experience, this isn't usually a problem, but it never hurts to be reminded that cute puppies and kittens can grow up to be 80lb dogs and independent cats, and that the joys of life with animals come with responsibilities. Be honest about how much time and attention your pet can expect from you. Cats and small dogs often fit very easily into people's lifestyles. Large dogs make wonderful pets, but require space and regular exercise to be happy and healthy.
Preparing for the adoption
If you don't already have a regular veterinarian, now is a good time to find one. Asking friends who have pets for recommendations can be a good way to find a vet you will like and trust. If you rent, you will need permission from your landlord to bring home a pet. You will also need your landlord's name and a contact number for your adoption application. Take some time to pet-proof your home (not as extensive a task as baby-proofing, but on the same lines). Be on the lookout for things like poisonous houseplants, gaps in fences, or caustic cleaners that could be easily knocked over and spilled. Remember that animals love to explore. Kittens and puppies especially will get into just about anything. Finally, it's a good idea to pick up some basic equipment: food and water dishes, some food, a leash and collar for dogs, and maybe a few toys and a petbed to make your new pet feel at home.