I can list just about every reason that people give for abandoning or giving up their adored pet.

I can list just about every reason that people give for abandoning or giving up their adored pet. Their justification falls into one of these categories: behavior problems, divorce and neither wants the pet, moving and cannot take, kids no longer care about it, not able to give it the time and attention it deserves, boyfriend or housemate does not want it or has allergies or family member has died and no one wants their pets.

These people usually say how sad they are to "have to" give up their beloved pet, once a treasured member of the family.

I and many other pet owners cannot imagine any circumstance where they would ever give up their pet. It would be like taking away a part of them. There are solutions that can remedy many of the above stated reasons if you will make the effort. Behavior problems can be remedied with training and diligence by all family members. Choosing to live where pets are not allowed should not be an option. Find a pet friendly renter. Plan ahead before old age or illness makes it impossible to care for a pet. Sometimes the solution is not to ever get a pet.

Acquiring a pet is a lifetime commitment. They are not disposable. When a dog or cat becomes part of your family, it deserves the same love, care and respect as any other family member. Before you make the decision to bring that adorable, "can't resist the look in his eyes" furry creature into your household, take a moment to ponder these questions. Why do you want a pet? If it is for your children…trust me, this will be your dog or cat…and they will not take it with them when they move out.

If your spouse is against the idea, do not do it. It is not fair to the animal unless every member of the family is involved. Do you have time for a pet? If you want Mittens or Max to be well adjusted, you need to invest time and energy into their care. They require food, water, exercise, grooming and human love and companionship every day…perhaps for the next 12 to 15 years. Failure to spend time with your pet can lead to problems such as chewing, barking or other signs of neurotic behavior.

Can you afford a pet? There may be room in your heart but is there room in your budget? At the minimum, over the lifetime of a pet, the cost associated with their care is about $8,000 (dog) to $10,000 (cat…they live longer). Will you tolerate the nuisance issues of owning a pet? House training accidents, pet hair on your furniture and clothing, household items are damaged, even with well-adjusted pets. It is true. Ask any pet owner you know. How many remote controls are you willing to have chewed up? How many sleepless nights while your Great Dane paces and whines during a thunderstorm? What if the cat develops litter box aversion?

There are other issues to consider before acquiring a pet. The age of your children is relevant. Children should be at least 5-6 years old before a pet is acquired, especially puppies and kittens. Does your lifestyle lend itself to meeting the needs of a pet? Will you be able to care for a pet or do you have a plan if unexpected events affect your life?

Prospective pet owners underestimate the investment of patience, time, energy and money. The result? The animal lives a life of misery, neglected, abandoned or given up to a shelter. This is cruelty. Most shelter animals were owned by people who did not think through the responsibilities of pet ownership. If you cannot meet the exercise and activity needs of a dog, perhaps a cat would make a better pet. If you are unable to be fully committed, then you should not bring that animal into your home, period. It is not fair to them and it is a poor example to set for your children.

If you really love animals, and are ready for lifetime commitment, I hope you will get a pet. In return, you will be blessed with unconditional love and devotion from a pet that will be there for you no matter what.

Anne Divine is a long time member of LAWS and has volunteered at Animal Control for 18 years. She can be reached at: adivine@kc.rr.com.