It’s a big decision for an individual or family to welcome a new pet into a home. Like any choice that brings inevitable change to your life, due diligence is a must. You shouldn’t make an important purchase without doing research, and that’s especially true when an animal’s well-being and your own happiness are at stake.
Assuming you’ve done the background work to determine what animal is a good fit, whether a puppy/kitten, a more senior pet, or a rescue, the final step is deciding where that new pet comes from.
This is a huge step in the process – and you have to be aware of any red flags that might be encountered.
What’s their story?
Collecting as much information as possible about your potential new pet’s history is a big part of your due diligence. You need to know things like:
- What illnesses have they had?
- Were they abused?
- Were they ever homeless?
- Were they weaned early?
- What do they eat?
- Do they have a history of biting or aggression?
If the person caring for the animal cannot – or will not – answer those questions, that’s a red flag.
Finding a pet online
So much of modern life centres on using the Internet to help us navigate our way. It’s the best and most accessible research tool we have (assuming you’re looking in the right place). For would-be pet owners, hopping online to find your perfect match is a typical method. But your ultimate success is dictated by avoiding traps, so you can weed out those people who don’t have the animal’s or your best interests in mind.
Be wary if you see any of the following red flags:
1) Spotty information – any reputable seller should include pertinent information, like if the animal has been spayed or neutered and if it has been microchipped. If an ad for an animal doesn’t contain the most basic information, chances are it can’t be trusted.
2) Age appropriate – you simply should not get a cat or dog that is under eight weeks old. No debate. An animal under the age of eight weeks has not been fully weaned and is susceptible to potentially serious health issues.
3) Sight unseen – if a person cares about the pet they are giving up, it is crucial that they know whom the animal is going to. Consider it a must to see a pet in person and avoid any communication that says the current owner will bring that animal to you to complete a deal. And the very fact that they suggest delivering the animal could mean they’re trying to avoid you seeing its living conditions.
4) Upfront payment – stay away from any request to pay for an animal in advance.
5) Guarantees – Another consideration is determining if a breeder will take an animal back if it needs to be returned due to unforeseen circumstances and an inability of the new to provide care.
Appearance and Behaviour
An animal’s appearance can also reveal how well they’ve been cared for. Cleanliness, a healthy coat, and clear eyes are all signs of exceptional care. If your prospective pet is lacking these characteristics, it’s possible that they have been neglected.
The animal’s behaviour matters, too. Aggression or fear are signs of stress, and there could be future trouble adapting to a new environment. Trust your eyes.
Remember that your best bet for avoiding any of these red flags when finding the perfect pet is working with your local Humane Society. You can rest easy knowing that your new companion has had the best care possible in a safe environment before being welcomed into your home.