Are You Ready to Adopt a Pet?

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Before adding a four-legged member of the family, learn the ABCs of adoption and care

On Sunday afternoon, the Animal League hosted the Mutt-i-grees Mania pet adoption expo at Hudson Park Pier 40. The final event of the League's "Get Your Licks on Route 66" animal adoption tour, Mutt-i-grees Mania featured three mobile rescue units filled with puppies, kittens, dogs and cats. Joining the event were local shelters Heavenly Angels Animal Rescue of Astoria, Sean Casey Animal Rescue of Brooklyn, the Animal Center of Queens in Rego Park and Toms River, N.J.'s Puppy Love Pet Rescue.

While it was a great opportunity for the eager-to-adopt to add new members to their families, the event was also an opportunity to gather important tips on preparing and caring for a new pet. In keeping with that educational spirit, here are a few of the most important things to know and prepare for before adopting a pet.

First and foremost, you have to be prepared for the regular and irregular expenses that come with your new companion. Beyond the initial cost of purchasing/adopting your pet, you'll have to pay for vaccinations, spaying/neutering and the like. While many shelters will cover these medical procedures or perform them on-site, some leave the responsibility in the hands of the owner, so be sure to check your shelter's policy.

Remember that as soon as you and your new pet leave the shelter, he is your responsibility. If (worst-case scenario) something happens and you need to visit the vet that very week, the bill is on you (again, shelters have varying policies on this matter, but at the very least you'll need money on hand at the time of your visit, even if it does get reimbursed). Then there's the never-ending food budget. There's nothing more important for your pet than a healthy diet, so be sure you're ready for your weekly grocery bill to jump.

Pet proofing
Your home needs to be ready for its newest resident. Look around for any hazards within the animal's snooping range, as a pet's natural curiosity will undoubtedly lead her to investigate every nook and cranny. Watch for things like unshielded electrical cords and choking/strangulation hazards.

While you should play with your new animal as much as possible, toys are important for when you're not around. Playing with toys is essential-not only for your pet's physical health but also for his mental well-being. Chasing and grabbing his favorite toys helps your pet maintain his natural instincts and gives him a heightened sense of purpose.

Food, veterinary visits and toys aside, there are still plenty of supplemental purchases to smooth a new pet's transition into your home. Some are more essential than others, such as flea repellent for dogs, scratching posts for cats and food and water bowls for both. One great optional purchase is the pet bed, which gives the pet a safe, warm spot to call her own, making the acclimation process much easier.

By far the most important way to prepare when adopting a pet is to do your research. This article may serve as a starting point to send you in the right direction, but there is limitless information to be found on the Internet on this subject. One thing most all pet owners love is talking about their pets, making it an easy subject to research. Fish around for general pet care tips and housebreaking tricks of the trade. Be sure to look for information on the shelter you're planning to adopt from; know their adoption policies, how their animals generally end up at the shelter and, most importantly, how they care for their animals.

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