i fundamentally disagree with pet stores, and all animal-exploitative, capitalist ventures in general.
if you know nothing about these cruel practices, please enlighten yourself here and here. (i will address my thoughts on breeding in another post, but you can read this NYT article as homework.) there are hundreds of thousands of perfect little animals that want and need homes (need i mention, at a fraction of the cost of a “purebred” or “designer dog.”)
if you’re really thinking about bringing a little creature into your family, please – adopt, don’t shop! according to the ASPCA, 5 in 10 dogs and 7 in 10 cats in shelters are euthanized simply because there is no one to adopt them. do not underestimate the impact, when i say you can save a life or two or three!
that being said, i adopted both nef and bergie.
i adopted nef from animal haven when she was only 8 weeks old, ridden with ring worm and bald spots. she had climbed into my lap and purred immediately – and i thought this is it! and that was that. i took her home two days later. however, my then-roommate immediately hated her, claiming that he didn’t know i was getting a cat (which was really not true). well, maybe, i don’t know whether he hated her or me. anyway, i moved out a few weeks later. despite the emotional and physical upheaval and also contracting ringworm myself (gross!), i knew it was the right and best decision. if you were wondering, black cats are not bad luck! also, did you know that black cats (and dogs) are the least likely to be adopted at shelters and most likely to get euthanized first?
bergie, on the other hand, sort of sneak-attacked our souls. i had passed an adoption booth outside of the petsmart in noho, which host animal rescues often (and has an in-store vet by the way!). i spotted a bunch of little kittens up for adoption. j and i had casually talked about getting another animal, and we assumed getting another cat was an easy transition. after secretly submitting the application online, i convinced j to “go and look at some animals” the following sunday. reluctantly, he agreed. we spotted bergie and fell head over heels in love. in love! j was nervous about getting a puppy – about the amount of work it would entail, especially in a small apartment, and who would be responsible for certain dog-duties. after a serious walk around the block, we finally came to an agreement and took him home.
adopting a pet is a life-changing experience. you learn what it means to really love and be responsible for another living being – unconditionally. i guess sort of like having kids, but the added benefit of adopting animals is they’re not human! ;] i was at the park the other day, talking to this woman about her dog. she said, “yes, i rescued him, but, really, he rescued me!” when you do finally adopt a pet, you will truly understand what this means.
there are a few really important things to consider before you adopt:
1. um, you probably want to check if your landlord allows pets, especially in NYC.
2. be realistic about the animal you choose. make sure the animal (species, breed, age, and size) fits with your lifestyle. if you live in a small apartment and work a 9-5 job, you may not want to get a very active and big guy (unless you have a dog walker come multiple times a day). do you have other human support (emotional and physical) that will be there when you need it? and for puppies, do you have the time, flexibility, and, most importantly, patience that it takes to raise one?
3. are you ready to change your way of life, at least for a little while, to help your new pet adjust to its new life? meaning, staying home on evening and weekends to bond and play with your new family member, even at the sacrifice of your social life.
4. let’s be honest, can you afford it?
5. i cannot stress this one most of all – if you are adopting a pet with someone, a significant other, roommate, partner, or whomever, have a clear and honest discussion about the responsibilities: training, feeding, walking, cleaning, etc. as awkward as it is, if you do breakup/move out, who will take the pet? you never want your pet to be a source of resentment, or, worst of all, abandoned, so it’s important to make these decisions beforehand.
i guess if you’re cool with all of that stuff. (am i missing anything?) i wish you the best best of luck in your search for your new critter. i assure you, you will gain a perspective on poop in a whole, new, and fearless way!
if you’re in the nyc area, here’s where we adopted berg & nef and couple of other good places i’ve heard about:
animal haven // this is where i adopted nef. it’s a no-kill shelter located in soho. the shelter is clean and well-maintained. the staff is extremely supportive and knowledgeable. i HIGHLY recommend this place.
lil monsters // we adopted bergie from here. it’s small rescue organization, featured out of petsmart at the time when we adopted him, run by this guy & his wife. they seemed to have a genuine love for animals. berg was already neutered and had most of his shots before we got him, so we were lucky. also, i’m pretty sure they did not call any of my references, and we took bergie home pretty much immediately. i read some skeptical reviews about this place online, but overall we had a good experience with them.
brooklyn badass // “saving badass dogs from idiot humans.” their motto says it all.
sean casey animal rescue // i heard good things about this place.
petfinder.com // great resource for searching for available pets, especially you’re looking for a specific breed.