Pets bring us endless joy, and studies are finding more and more benefits that ownership can have on our health and wellbeing; however, owning a pet is no walk in the park and comes with a whole lot of responsibilities. So if you’re considering bringing a furry friend into your home be sure it’s a decision you can comfortably commit to, and if you’re lucky enough to already own a pet then it’s good to assess how well you’re keeping up the necessary responsibilities.
People often consider getting a pet before starting a family, and for good reason – just like a child, the wellbeing of a cat or dog is completely in your hands. Our pets love us unconditionally; they’re always there to greet us when we get home with a friendly face, and so in turn we need to reserve affection and attention for them no matter what life may bring. Whether you’re busy with work commitments or personal life, caring for a pet is a 24/7 job and requires a large amount of time, energy and money, which can often mean compromise or sacrifice for owners. An average dog or cat can live up to 15 to 20 years so it is by no means a short-term commitment – longer even than some of us can commit to each other!
On a daily basis, pets are extremely time consuming as they need to be fed, exercised, groomed and of course given regular love and attention. If you have, or are thinking of getting, an infant pet then they will also need training and the extra dedication and time this requires. Pet supplies and medical expenses can be costly so it’s wise to set aside a budget for this to make sure you have enough in case any unexpected situations arise.
As much as pet ownership is a privilege we’re lucky to have, it also provides owner with legal responsibilities set out by The Animal Welfare Act 2006 (which applies in England and Wales) to protect the welfare of animals. Owners and/or keepers have duties to care for their pet ensuring that the following basic needs are met, and failure to do so can have very serious legal consequences:
- A suitable environment
- A suitable diet
- The ability to exhibit normal behaviour
- Housed with, or apart from, other animals
- Protection from pain, suffering, injury and disease
At this time of year, with pets high on the Christmas list for many, it’s important to recognise and appreciate the responsibility that comes with ownership. If you’re lucky enough to already have a furry family member, then think about how well you’re fulfilling all of your obligations as a pet owner and whether you can do anything more to return the love and joy they bring to us!