By BJ Towe

I’ve been there more times than I can count: Face-to-face with a super-cute dog or cat in need of a home, my heart melts and, before you know it, I’m teetering on adding it to our personal pet population. But I’ve learned that no matter how cute that pup, dog, kitten or cat is, its personality, traits and care needs could make or break our happy relationship.

Before adding a pet to your household, it’s wise to consider whether it’s a good match for you, your family, your living situation and your lifestyle. Doing so will help assure that you – and your new fur baby – will have a mutually rewarding life together. Ask yourself:

  • Why do you want a pet? Is it your idea or are you feeling pressure from others?
  • Will everyone in your household welcome the pet and treat it lovingly?
  • What type of pet is best for you? Can you put up with things like shedding, wear-and-tear on furniture, messes around the food bowl and/or a litter box?
  • Are you prepared to deal with puppy and kitty issues, such as housebreaking, chewing behaviors, sharp teeth and nails, and more? Would you be better off with an adult pet?
  • Do you have enough space for the pet you are considering?
  • If you rent, does your landlord allow pets or restrict their breed or size?
  • What are your community’s pet ordinances? For example, Centerville prohibits ownership of certain breeds and vicious animals.
  • Will you be able to give your pet enough time and attention? If it’s high-energy, will you make sure it has plenty of exercise every day?
  • If your dog will spend much time outdoors, is your yard fenced-in?
  • Can you comfortably cover the cost of pet ownership, which involves food, pet supplies and care needs, such as spay/neuter, routine veterinary checkups, vaccinations, any unexpected medical treatment and, of course, flea, tick and heartworm prevention?
  • How will you provide care for your pet when you are away?

If you are considering a purebred dog or cat, Purina has an online tool that matches your desires and attitudes with a variety of breeds to consider. For dogs, visit For cats, visit

Mixed breeds, however, are less prone to genetic defects common to certain purebred dogs and cats. That usually means fewer trips to the vet – and that means lower vet bills.

Remember, animal shelters are a great place to see and get to know a wide range of adoptable pets. With the support of Appanoose County residents and governments, Furever Friends Rescue of Appanoose, Inc. plans to open a high-quality shelter locally in the future. Until then, we encourage you to visit Heartland Humane Society in Ottumwa.