Saturday, October 2, 2004

Want a pet without peeves?

Adopting an animal should never be based on impulse

By Peggy O'Farrell
/ Enquirer staff writer

The Schenz family of Lockand: Sarah (left) with Donut, Vaughn, 4, and Brandon, holding Whisky. They adopted both dogs from local shelters, as well as three of their cats.

Sarah and Brandon Schenz were shopping for their first house, and it had to have a fenced back yard because they wanted a dog.

They found Whisky, a German shepherd mix, at a local shelter.

The next trip to the shelter, their son Vaughn, then 2, fell in love with a hound mix he named Donut.

Before you get a pet, ask yourself ...

• Do I want to raise a baby and baby-proof my home? Puppies and kittens need to be housebroken, taught the rules of the house and allowed to play - just like human babies do. Not interested? There are plenty of adult animals in shelters, and they make great pets.

• Can you afford a pet? In addition the adoption fees, you'll have to pay for food and supplies, shots and regular checkups and emergency veterinary care if your pet gets sick or hurt.

• Who will take care of the animal when you're out of town? If friends and relatives won't pitch in, you might have to pay to board the animal or hire a pet-sitter.

--Peggy O'Farrell

The Schenzes, Donut and Whisky share their Lockland home with four cats - Isis, Osiris and Maceo, all adopted from shelters, and Dante, a stray who had the good sense to wander into their back yard.

"I'm not allowed to go to animal shelters anymore," Sarah Schenz jokes.

She picked Whisky because she loved the dog's personality, and they wanted a larger dog. The three shelter cats were all tortoise shells "and nobody ever seems to want to adopt them," Schenz says.

Local animal shelters are crowded in part because of animals displaced by the hurricanes that hit Florida have been moved this far north.

But if you're looking for a pet, it's important to remember that an animal isn't an impulse buy.

Animals end up in shelters for "all sorts of reasons," says Andy Mahlman, operations manager of SPCA Cincinnati's shelter in Northside.

"The biggest reason animals come back to the shelter is people picking the wrong pet, just not knowing what they were getting into."


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