Unlike fish, dogs and cats can be highly misunderstood pets. Often, the reasons for getting a companion animal are well-founded, but the choice of animal can leave some pet owners feeling at least overwhelmed, and at worst, in danger. It is no small decision to adopt a pet, and yet some potential pet owners walk blindly in, paying no heed to the information which is available about the particular breed they have chosen. In the past, this sort of uninformed pet shopping has led to the current over breeding and inbreeding of many of the most prized dogs and cats, and has called into question the ethics of breeding altogether. The current trend of “designer dogs,” or dogs which carry the genes of two different purebred animals, such as a Jack Russell Terrier and Chihuahua, have begun to stem the tide of health problems that plague some breeds such as hip dysplasia in German Shepards, but a true solution to this problem is still a long way off.
When someone chooses an animal, chances are, they have a particular type of animal in mind, either a lap dog, or protective animal, and will make an emotional decision based on their perceived need. The puppy is really, really cute when they get it home, and for a few months everything is dandy. Then, as the dog’s personality begins to form, the reality of what has happened has set in. An uninformed owner has brought a Pit Bull terrier into a home with young children, and has no clue how to properly train what is essentially a hunting dog. At the first sign of territoriality, the dog is boxed up and taken to the pound to be someone else’s problem, or worse, taken out into the countryside and dumped.
Most informed pet owners will adopt their pets from their local animal shelter rather than buying a puppy or kitten from mall stores or breeders. This is by far the most responsible way to bring a pet into your family’s life, and you will have the added benefit of seeing the more mature dog or cat’s personality before you take them home. Are they skittish and afraid, or confident and friendly? Most animals will be a little wary of you while they are locked in a kennel, the stress of living in a cage will wear on their nerves after a while. Be wary of animals cowering in a corner or shaking uncontrollably. This could be a sign of abuse or a physical problem, and pets in this condition will require more care than it is likely that you will have time to give to them. If you have a pet that you purchased from a breeder, however, and are finding that the animal is not what you expected, please do the animal a favor and take it to the pound. In the wild, the chances of a domesticated animal surviving are practically none. Responsible pet ownership means providing the best opportunity for your dog or cat to be happy even without you, and the only way that will happen is if they are adopted by someone who knows how to work with the particular animal’s breed.