By Nan Talleno

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Adopting a dog or cat should always be a heartfelt decision taken very seriously, well thought out in advance and followed through with commitment and dedication. It is, after all, a life entrusted in your care. So it stands to reason that choosing a dog or cat with disabilities is an important decision.

It’s important for the welfare of the animal that your emotions do not override common sense to influence your decision. The reason for this is that the special needs dog or cat (or an animal of any species for that matter), needs the right care for his or her safety. Of course, that is always primary. But just as important, he or she needs balance and that only comes with emotional stability. If you only “feel sorry” and base your decision on that emotion alone, it will not help the challenged dog or cat. In fact, sadly even with good intentions, it could ultimately hinder the animal.

Instead, you can put your empathetic emotions to good use. Research all that would be needed both physically and mentally to help this animal. Make the appropriate preparations ahead of time. Ask shelter or rescue workers all that would be required. Be realistic in what you can and cannot provide. Be protective on safety issues and physical limitations, but do not smother or become emotionally overprotective to the point of burdening the animal. That only causes depression and possible behavioral issues.

For the sake of the dog or cat, make your decision from that vantage point to give the animal the best possible chance at a healthy and happy life.

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