What You Need to Know Before Adding a Pet to Your Family

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The chaos of your last PCS has quieted. You have finally figured out where that last picture should be hung. Honestly, if it’s not out of the box by now it isn’t coming out unless it’s Christmas. You are starting to feel as if there is room in your home for your first – or another – pet. Pet ownership is a lifetime commitment.  Whether your preference is mammalian, reptilian, or aquatic, there are a few items you may want to ponder.

Things to Consider Before You Add a Pet to Your Military Family

1. Are You Prepared to PCS With Your Pet?

Are you ready to bring this pet anywhere the military can move you and are you ready to pay out of pocket to transport your pet?  What happens if your spouse deploys or is stationed separately from you?

2. Is your new family ready for a new pet?

Before you add a pet to your family, make sure you  are able to answer the following questions honestly:

  • Who will take responsibility for the training and grooming of your new pet and does this person have time?
  • Are there family responsibilities that may make pet ownership more difficult – starting a new job or having a young baby or toddler?
  • Do you have the time to devote to the exercise and care requirements for your new pet?

3.  Can You Afford a Pet? 

The 2013-2014 American Pet Products Association Pet Owner’s Survey estimates the average basic annual cost of owning a dog to be $1649 and $1271 for cats, not to mention the additional costs of shipping your pet overseas if you receive OCONUS orders. Does your family budget allow for these additional expenses? Does your family budget also include a little extra for emergency expenses like when one of your dogs runs into a picnic table right before an overseas move? True story.

This is our adopted greyhound, Duke. Photo courtesy of Lindsey Sorensen.


4.  Does your current housing arrangement allow for pets?

If you are renting, have you asked the landlord or property manager for permission? If you are in housing on base or post you will need to check with housing if there are any prerequisites to pet ownership. Your future housing arrangements will also have to accommodate for your pets.

If you are unsure about if you are able to devote the attention a pet requires there are some amazing alternatives that you can do immediately!

Alternatives to Pet Ownership

Volunteer at a local pet shelter.

Your local shelter may be accepting volunteers to walk and socialize with the pets in their care. You can spend your time with lots of dogs and cats who need love and attention. Fair warning – you may want to bring them all home! At that point, go back and re-read “Pause and Think”.

Get involved with a local pet rescue organization.

You may be able to help coordinate or volunteer at adoption events. Some organizations will also let you foster pets in your home while the pet is looking for a forever home. This is a great option if you don’t know where you will be moving to next but still want to share your time with a deserving pet!

 Pet ownership can be frustrating and rewarding and is a commitment not to be taken lightly. Stay tuned for the upcoming parts of the series to include selecting you pet with the military in mind, pet care and health (in the military), and the joys of moving with a pet!

Lindsey SorensonLindsey is a wife, mother, veteran, scientist, and is passionate about her pets. She works from home which allows her to balance all of her commitments – most of the time.  She is the owner of Miss Lindsey’s Science Workshops.  Her current pets include two dogs, a fish, and a horse – all of which are PCS veterans – even the fish. Lindsey is pretty quiet but will happily open up to discuss topics she is passionate about – pet rescue, the merits of kettlebells, horses, and why she detests the term ‘chemical-free’. She is a very infrequent blogger at http://hshoesandhgrenades.blogspot.com and has been known to get lost at the barn for hours.



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