Options for Animal Lovers Who Can't Have Pets

Are you an animal lover who can't have your own pet because you commute to work, travel frequently, don't have the money or aren't allowed to have pets where you live?  There are many reasons why people who love animals might be denied the joys of being a guardian to their own pets.  Fortunately there are also many ways in which you can get your furry fix without being a full-time guardian.  Whether you are passionate for pooches, crave cuddly cats, or like to horse around with equine friends there are many options for spending time with animals.  

If you can't have animals in your home, try one of these options: ·    

Volunteer to walk a neighbor's dog or take it to the dog park.  The dog gets exercise, you get friendly companion, and your neighbor gets a break.  It's an all around winning situation. ·    

Become a regular dog walker or pet sitter.  You can spend time with animals outside of your home and earn money at the same time.  You can either start your own business or go through a professional agency. ·    

Volunteer at your local Human Society or animal shelter.  (You may want to ask ahead of time to make sure they are a "no-kill" shelter, meaning they only euthanize animals when the animal is very ill or a danger to itself or others).  Animal shelters are almost always overflowing with animals who want and need your love and attention.  Spend an hour or two each week exercising the dogs or playing with the cats or any other exotic animals they may have.  Some shelters house ferrets, rabbits and other animals who need homes.  Ask about all the volunteer opportunities available.  Some shelters will even let you take the dog off site for good long hike.  

Want to have an animal in your home?  ·    

Offer pet-sitting services in your home.  Some people prefer to have their pets stay with someone full-time while they are out of town. ·    

Become a Foster Parent.   If you are interested in becoming a foster parent talk to your local shelter about fostering options.  As a Foster Parent you'll bring an animal into your home and care for it for a couple weeks to a couple months.  I should mention this is not a job for the faint of heart.  Sometimes animals in need of foster care are quite ill.  The shelter should provide all the food and cost for healthcare if needed, but be aware that a very sick animal, even when given lots of love and attention, is not guaranteed to survive.    On the other hand, your efforts may lead to a wonderful success story.  A couple years ago I served as a foster parent to two feral kittens.  (I named them Hiss and Spat after the noises they always made).  They were too wild to be adopted so I spent time with them at home getting them used to humans and being handled.  Pretty soon their hisses turned to purrs and they were both adopted into happy homes.  

Looking to play with bigger animals? ·    

Research your local stables.  You may be able to arrange a deal where you can exchange mucking and feeding for riding lessons. ·    

Volunteer at a Riding Therapy organization.  This is a great option if you like both horses and people.  Equine and Hippo therapy are used to assist people with developmental and physical disorders.  You might assist with classes by taking a horse or leading it during class.  ·    

Talk to your local zoo.  Odds are you won't get direct contact with their bigger animals, for safety purposes, but you may find some great ways to spend time and learn a great deal about your favorite wild animals. 


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Mark Cruz
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Posted on Mar 11, 2012
Jerry Walch
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Posted on Dec 9, 2008