Adopting A Furry Family Member

Dated: 04/30/2017

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We find ourselves sitting at home on a Saturday afternoon looking around and wondering to ourselves, "What's missing?" The dishes and laundry are done, errands are completed, and you even took a morning dip in the ocean. You and your significant other decide to take a drive into town. Sure enough, there is an area with cats and dogs available for adoption, and that's when something triggers—you are looking for your animal companion! Quickly to follow is the voice of reason—aka, your significant other—asking if this is really a good idea. In all honesty, that is one of the most important questions to ask yourself.

Kohala Animal Relocation and Education Service (KARES) is one of many animal rescues on the Big Island, and they put it quite simply:

I'm a Forever dog, not an Until dog.

You are about to make a seemingly rash decision about adopting a pet on a whim. Has there been a full discussion with everyone in the household of adding another family member? That is essentially what you are doing, adding an additional member to the family, hence adopting. It is another mouth to feed, train, and care for. Will everyone help with raising your new member or will it become a novelty quickly to wear off? This is a lifelong commitment and must be treated with care.

Each animal has their own personality and needs. You have athletic dogs that will love to go on runs with you while other dogs have absolutely no problem lounging next to you on easy Sundays. When deciding on a dog, it's all about matching your compatibility and not choosing the cutest one you see. You will find developing a new routine with your dog can be very satisfying or easily become a nightmare. Believe it or not, certain breeds of cats can be quite similar to dogs based on their level of energy and need for attention. If you do not research about the breed you might bite off more than you can chew.

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Please keep in mind the possible restrictions you may face if you live in a condo community. Check with your association rules to see if it allows pets and if there are any breed-specific restrictions. You don't want to return your newfound pet soon after because you received a notice regarding your community's no-pets policy. It wouldn't be fair to anyone involved, and definitely not to your newly adopted animal.

If you and your family have decided you are ready for an additional member, do a little research on behavioral breeds that will compliment your family. There are some who prefer a pure-bred lineage and will find the breeder of their choice, and that is completely fine as long as the breeder operates with responsible breeding practices. Others will go the direction of adopting an animal from a shelter. The latter option is always highly recommended since there are so many great animals in the shelters waiting for their new home.

Along with KARES, here are some other great shelters on the Big Island:

There is a right animal out there for everyone, and I hope you are able to find your new family member!

A hui hou aku nō, mālama pono.

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