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Are you ready to adopt a pet?

Pets bring joy and companionship to our lives, and for many of us, are a first introduction to animals when we’re young. But becoming a pet owner is a huge responsibility. You should always do your research before bringing a new animal into your home and make sure you are able to properly care for your new family member.

Do you have the patience to potty-train your new puppy and the willingness to clean up the little (or not so little) messes around your home that you will probably appear during the process? Do you have time during your day to go home and take your dog on walks, so he or she can fulfill a dog’s need for exercise? Do you enjoy listening to the cacophony of three different squeaky toys while you’re trying to watch the season finale of your favorite show?

Or perhaps you are more of a cat person. Are you willing to take the risk that the cat may scratch favorite upholstery or furniture? Can you provide food, toys and a litterbox? Even more so, are you prepared for the expenses of veterinary care? All pets will require veterinary check-ups or additional care at some point, and young puppies and kittens will require rounds of vaccinations. Dogs and cats will also both need regular flea prevention.

These are just some of the many questions you should ask yourself before adopting a cat or a dog, and if you’re adopting another animal, there is a whole slew of different questions (such as the very specific care needs of reptiles or other mammals), but we’ll just focus on dogs and cats for now.

So why should you adopt over purchasing your new cat or dog? Well, first off, if you adopt, you are saving a life. According to the ASPCA, about 6.5 million companion animals (3.3 million dogs and 3.2 million cats) enter shelters every year. While about 3.2 million dogs and cats do find homes each year, about 1.5 million of these animals are euthanized. You can help cut down on that number!

Along with saving a life, if you aren’t sure whether you can handle an energetic puppy or kitten, rescue centers often have dogs and cats in older life stages. If you would like a more relaxed pet, there are plenty of adult dogs and cats who have incredible personalities and sometimes have even been trained by a previous owner.

Adopting is also usually less expensive than buying your pet. Most of the time, the adoption costs are in place to compensate the rescuers’ costs of housing, food and spaying or neutering the adopted animal along with any other veterinary bills during their time in the shelter. Plus, most animals found in rescue centers often aren’t pure-bred animals, which are usually associated with higher costs if bought from a breeder. If you are really looking for a specific breed, though, there are plenty of breed-specific rescue organizations too.

We hope you’ll be a responsible researcher when looking for your new best friend! There are dozens of rescue centers and shelters around Atlanta to check out, and if you’re looking for a new puppy or dog, Zoo Atlanta is partnering up with the Atlanta Humane Society to host ZooPaws on April 28 – an adoption event located near the front entrance of the Zoo in Grant Park. We hope you’ll come out, play with some dogs and hopefully adopt a loving pet into your home.

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