How to prepare for owning a pet
From modest beginnings in 1924, Wood Green, The Animals Charity has grown to become one of the leading animal welfare organisations in the UK, taking in animals of all shapes and sizes. As well as cats and dogs, it finds loving new homes for chickens, rabbits, mice, guinea pigs, goats, sheep, ferrets and more. Wendy Kruger, dog training and welfare consultant at Wood Green, The Animals Charity offers her advice on sourcing pets responsibly.
What is the most suitable pet for a child under 10?
Probably the best pets that engage well with children are domesticated pet rats or guinea pigs. Rats are calm, good to handle, and live in the house so are inside with you when the weather is bad, while guinea pigs are hugely entertaining and, once socialised, enjoy interacting with their owners.
Where would you recommend getting a first pet from?
I would always recommend a rescue centre that gives information about that pet – what it needs in terms of housing, attention and company, how to handle him or her, how long the pet might live, what owning this pet might cost, and health issues to look out for. I would also strongly favour an organisation that provides ongoing support and advice about how to care for your pet.
What are the main things that people should consider before sourcing a pet?
You should think about where the pet will live, and if they have enough room to live a contented life. Many species need social company of their own type, so consider this when choosing your pet. Remember that a contented animal will be a joy to care for and make a much better pet than a lonely or frustrated animal. How long has the child wanted a pet? Have they researched how to care for it and, having discovered the less desirable elements such as cleaning accommodation, are they still as enthusiastic? Do the adults want the pet? In many cases it will be the adult that does a lot of the caring. How much time does that pet type need, and how much time do you or your family have spare to give the pet? Can you afford the care and vet visits, and have you looked into pet insurance?
Do you give advice to potential pet owners on which pet to choose for their lifestyle?
Wood Green gives owners lots of advice and support during the rehoming process. Our aim is for our customers to rehome a pet that suits their lifestyle.
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Pebble's now purring after a rocky start
"I love Pebble," says 12-year-old Maïna from south London, stroking her purring black tomcat. "He makes me feel loved because he's always kissing us and licking our noses and I find it really funny."
The pair are clearly close, so it’s hard to believe that when Pebble arrived aged three months in September 2011, he was so unsettled that despite having previous experience of owning rescue cats, Marie-Alice almost returned him.
Although they’d made all the preparations – bed, food and litter tray – when Pebble came home after his first injections, he was clearly unhappy. "We tried to find the right place for Pebble to eat so he'd be less anxious and settle more," says Marie-Alice. "I think he missed his mum. He was hiding in different places and he didn’t eat for five days," she says. "I called the RSPCA and said, 'I don't know if I can have him here.'"
However, Pebble must have realised he was in the last-chance saloon. Marie-Alice and Maïna went to visit friends for the day and when they returned, they were amazed to find Pebble transformed. He was happy to be handled, and was even purring. "I couldn't believe it," says Marie-Alice. "From that day on he has just followed us everywhere. I think he knew that it was his last chance!" The three have since settled into a happy life together.
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Buying a pet: the essentials
Do Take your time to decide on which pet you would like to purchase.
Don't Purchase a pet on an impulse, or for someone else as a present.
Do Make sure you source your pet from a responsible breeder or licensed pet shop – animal charities and organisations such as the RSPCA recommend sourcing from a rehoming centre, reputable breeder or retailer.
Don't Acquire a pet if your living situation is likely to change dramatically in a short period of time. This will prevent you from devoting time, energy and care for your pet needs.
Do Avoid buying through newspaper and online ads.
Don't Place an importance on achieving the cheapest price or a 'deal' for your pet. Expect to pay a fair price.
Where we source our pets1
- Survey conducted by Mustard Research on behalf of Pets at Home, June 2015 (Sample: 4,321)