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Choosing Your Pet

No matter what your age or stage in life, a pet can be a lovable companion. Whether you're old or young, living with others or alone, becoming a pet owner is a significant responsibility. That's why it is important to consider your options and learn more about different types of pets or breeds before you make a decision. In fact, the most common error cited regarding pet ownership is making an impulsive decision. By doing some advance research on animals, identifying your preferences, and recognizing lifestyle issues, you can choose the ideal pet for you.

When you've clarified your answers, you should have a clearer picture of the type of animal that best matches your needs and preferences. Next, you'll want to do some additional research to select the specific breed or species. Pay attention to important facts like the pet's expected life span; its projected adult size; the space and resources it needs to live, eat, sleep and exercise; any special needs for caring for the pet; and any common illnesses. Also, be sure the pet you select is legal in your locality, state and the country. If you are found with an illegal pet, the pet will be seized and likely euthanized. The more research you conduct, the more likely you - and your family - will be able to choose a pet that fits.

Once you've narrowed down your options, it's time to start meeting the real candidates. Decide whether you want to purchase from a breeder or a shelter. Don't hurry. Take your time to play with the pets around people and other animals and, if possible, alone. Take a toy or two with you and see how each animal responds to you. Is the animal quick to follow your lead or distracted? Does it respond to your voice? Does it exhibit fear? Also look closely at the animal to make sure it appears healthy. Often if a pet is sick when you buy it, the situation will get worse, not better. Even if you feel one particular animal may be right for you, keep on observing and examining other animals. After all, once you make the choice, there is no going back.

By doing your research, choosing wisely and preparing for pet ownership, you'll find a pet that makes a great addition to your life and your family for years to come.

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