Millions of people across the world enjoy the fulfilling experience that pet ownership brings to their respective household.
Most animals usually become a hugely important part of the family, bringing joy and love to adults and children alike.
However, some pets are not so lucky and find themselves treated badly or even abandoned by their cruel owners.
In many cases they eventually find their way to animal shelters, where the staff work tirelessly to care for them and hopefully find them new loving homes.
If you are planning to adopt a pet for the first time, take a few minutes to read our handy guide which will help you decide if it is the right move for you.
Spend time with your prospective pet
Much like any other type of relationship, it is important that there is an emotional bond between an owner and any pets they bring into their daily life.
Once you have determined that your home and lifestyle are suitable for an animal, you need to make sure that there is a spark between you and your potential new best friend.
Some animals, particularly vulnerable ones, may be wary of getting too close to someone during the early stages, so it is vital to factor this into the adoption process.
Australian veterinarian and TV personality, Dr Katrina Warren, believes spending some time with pets before committing to ownership is crucial.
“If you have your heart set on a particular breed, then I recommend going through the breed club in your state, who can put you in touch with registered breeders,” she said.
“And if you are open to a adopting a dog, look for rescue groups in your area and ideally choose a dog that has been temperament tested.”
Consider what you want from pet ownership
Animals that are up for adoption are reliant on the shelters, charities, vets and now, online pet care services that are caring for them to find them a suitable home.
They have to trust that whoever is being line up to become their owner has fully considered what they want to get out of pet ownership.
Jodi Andersen, co-founder at How I Met My Dog, insists that potential owners should be certain that their motives are genuine before adopting a pet.
“Rescue animals have no say in who takes them home but you do,” she said. “Consider first if you are looking for an affectionate companion, an energetic running buddy, an aloof roommate or a playmate for the kids.
“Knowing what you would like to achieve in this relationship with your new pet will help you make the best choice when deciding which pet is best suited for your family.”
Be sure you can afford a pet
Pets can be a considerable drain on household finances, with food, vet bills and insurance amongst the main annual outgoings.
Adopting a pet may also come with an initial cost which in some cases could be as much as $1,000, so be prepared for this eventuality.
The initial outlay may be made up of vaccinations, microchipping and other elements, all of which come before the ongoing costs you will incur throughout the year.
Dr Jim D. Carlson, who owns an animal clinic and holistic centre in Illinois, says anyone thinking of adopting a pet should be absolutely certain they can afford it.
“I would advise pet owners to put away some money every check until they have at least $1,000 for a pet emergency,” he said.
“The best way to keep costs low is a pet insurance policy that minimally covers emergencies. Those small monthly payments provide peace of mind in an emergency situation.”
Adopting a pet can be life-changing
The slogan ‘A dog is for life, not just for Christmas’ was coined back in the 1970s by Clarissa Baldwin, chief executive of the Dogs Trust, and it still rings true in the 21st century.
Bringing a pet into your home is tremendously rewarding, but adopting one takes the emotional experience to another level.
Hollywood stars Eva Medes and Ryan Gosling recently adopted a Doberman puppy named Lucho from the Friends for Life Rescue Network.
The pair are big advocates of pet adoption and Mendes cemented that message with a social media appeal for more people to support the practice.
“If you’re looking for a fluffy family member, adoption is a great option,” she wrote. “So many little dudes (are) out there needing a home.
“If you’re not able to have a pet but love animals, you can donate to this nonprofit. Your donation helps keep animals off the streets and out of shelters where they euthanize.”