The British are great pet owners. Figures show nearly half of all UK households have a pet. This means birds, reptiles, small animals, cats, dogs and horses or ponies. Apparently (according to the Pet Food Manufacturer’s’ Trade Association) there are 8 million dogs and 8 million cats in the UK!
These statistics prove the long held belief that the British are a nation of animal-lovers. But what happens if this love affair with our pets goes wrong? The scale of this problem can be illustrated by sheer number of re-homing or shelter organisations that exist. The RSPCA alone has 166 branches running 40 local, 16 regional and 40 mobile clinics. It rescued 119,126 animals in 2011. Scotland and Wales have their own regional rescue organisations and even so, there are still hundreds of other organisations who support abandoned or ill animals and their owners.
So the problem is real, but the question is what, as individuals, can we do? The answer comes when we decide whether or not to get our own pet. There are two main decisions points when it really helps to have all the facts to hand. These are when we first decide to buy a pet and then, whether or not we want to let the pet breed.
Wanting a pet?
The reasons why people want a pet are numerous. Sometimes they want one to be part of the family – sometimes instead of family. But whatever the reason, it’s vital to research what changes in lifestyle it takes to own an animal. Every type of pet – even down to different breeds, has unique requirements relating to time they need, the space required and the financial consequences. A good tip is to find someone who owns the type of pet being considered. Then aks how much it costs, how much attention it needs, where it is kept, the type of diet and the amount of exercise involved. If you feel you can make a similar level of commitment, then it’s worth while doing some more research. One of the main reasons people have problems with their pets is because they didn’t understand exactly what was involved in keeping a pet healthy and happy.
Starting a family?
Almost as soon as the decision is made to have a pet (and which pet to have!) the next consideration is whether or not to get it neutered. Unintentional pregnancies can put a lot of pressure on owners. Finding homes for offspring can take up lots of time. Alternatively, if you keep the babies it requires more space, more money and often more attention. Getting a pet neutered is a cost, but it is much less than the cost of an extended family of pets. The operation is frequently simple and pets recover very quickly. A visit to your local vet will tell you when is best for your pet and how much it will cost.