Archived Story

Do your homework before owning a pet

Published 8:25pm Monday, March 31, 2014

It never fails. Every time I go over my friends and fellow co-workers’ homes, the first thing that draws my attention is the multiple pets they own.

I, like millions of other Americans, am a proud pet owner.

It’s always fun going home or over a friend’s house and then being immediately being surrounded by dogs, cats, puppies or kittens vying for your attention.

At home in Mobile, my mom (and myself anytime I visit), take care of one of my brother’s dogs that has effectively become ours. Meanwhile, my brother has a dog of his own up in Kansas City, Mo. Both dogs are pitbulls, and despite the bad rap that particular dog breed gets, the two of them are truly among the friendliest dogs you will come across, always trying to lie under you as if they were still puppies despite their massive size.

My friends in Alex City are all cat owners. Honestly, before I started hanging out at my friends’ homes, I didn’t really care for cats.

Cats always came off as standoffish and selfish to me, only interacting with people on their terms, which admittedly isn’t really that bad most times, but it made cats seem more like a roommate you’re forced to clean up after rather than a loving pet.

As I said, that misconception of mine has been completely flipped on its head as I’ve started to interact with felines more and more.

All of that is to say, that all the recent contact with cats has made me want to get a pet of my own here in Alexander City, and potentially become a cat person.

But as I’ve considered getting a pet here in town, I’ve also begun to remember all of the responsibilities and steps that need to be taken before and after getting a pet.

It’s got me to thinking about a few tips and important things that potential pet owners must consider.

For starters, if you’re getting an indoor pet and you’re renting property, you need to get the okay from your landlord. Some landlords make it pretty clear what the ground rules for pet ownership are within the lease.

However, in my situation, the lease says nothing about not being able to own pets, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is okay to do so.

It’s always a good call to check with the landlord first if the language doesn’t exist in the lease.

Secondly – and this has been repeated over and over again – pets are a huge responsibility. I always like to compare owning a dog to having a child that never grows up because they require so much attention in order to keep them healthy and happy.

The responsibilities of having a dog are more obvious up front – they need to be walked for exercise and get attention and play time.

Some dogs can’t be left alone for too long because they eventually need to be taken outside to do their business. But also when left alone, even the best trained dogs can get into trouble.

Some people have the common misconception that if you get two cats, you don’t have to spend time with them as much because they’ll entertain each other all the time, but that’s not exactly true.

While cats are more independent as far as grooming themselves and handling their business in the litter box, they also require attention from their owner.

I remember one time checking on two of my friend’s cats while he was out of town on vacation. At that point, the cats weren’t really that familiar with me. But after just two days of not seeing a person at all, they immediately rushed to the door, surrounded me and were meowing like crazy (something I had never heard them do before) despite having full water and food dishes and pretty clean litter boxes.

The tips I mentioned, of course, are only a couple of things to consider before getting a pet.

It’s crucial to do as much research as possible before taking on a very big responsibility like pet ownership.

I know I will.

Hudson is a staff writer for The Outlook.

  • Char Aznable

    Very true! Unfortunately so many pet owners in AC do not prepare for pet ownership. I see so many that just boot the dog out of their house when it’s not longer a puppy. It either wanders the streets (because building a fence is too much effort/money) or gets hit by a car.