Getting a pet is an EXCITING time; LEARNING about having a pet is an important first step!

  By: Rachel O'Connor, BSc, MSc  
       Ontario Veterinary College, Guelph, ON, Canada

  Oct. 20, 2015

Bringing a pet into your home can be a wonderful experience! My pets have made me smile and laugh. They have allowed me to make new friends with other pet owners. Having pets has given me a feeling of comfort and security. They keep me active, especially on days when I feel like doing nothing! Playing with my pets also makes me feel like a child again. My pets are part of my family!

Over the past four years, I have been part of a research team at the University of Guelph that has been investigating ways to address pet homelessness. Through this work, I have learned a lot about the different roles pets can play in people’s lives. Most people that get a pet are happy with their animal; this is GREAT NEWS! But, there are also a number of things that can make people unhappy with their pet. Therefore, as I’m sure you will agree, it is important to get things started on the right foot!

Unfortunately, each year, around the world, millions of pets are left homeless, either on the street or in an animal shelter. Animals become homeless for a variety of reasons, including both owner reasons (e.g., allergies, moving) and animal reasons (e.g., problem behaviors). Our research team was particularly interested in why a person gives up their pet and what role the person’s expectations of their pet plays in this decision.

We, a team of researchers and animal lovers, started to ask ourselves; how can we help to make people’s relationships with their pet more successful right from the start?

Through our research, pet-owner education became the obvious answer. Providing education and advice to people interested in getting a pet was shown to help create realistic expectations for ownership. In turn, having realistic expectations helps to build successful relationships between people and their pets.

We started with a “Google” search to see what information was available for people getting a pet. We hit many crossroads. There was SO much information out there, in a bunch of different places. Often, the information was hidden within a site, or it contradicted other information we found. I personally found it confusing and frustrating to try to find answers to common questions. It was tough to determine which resources were reliable, backed by evidence or experts, and which resources were just someone’s opinions.

This is where we got the idea to build our website, ‘B4 U GET A PET’. We decided to take the things we were learning through our research, combine them with other reliable information, and build this website for people who are thinking about getting a pet. Our goal is to build a reliable resource that will help you, and other people like you, build an enjoyable, lasting relationship with your new pet.

We hope you find what you are looking for, whether you are anticipating your first pet or your tenth, an adult cat or dog, or a puppy or kitten.

So, before getting a pet, check out!