Making the Decision to Own a Pet

Updated January 2022

Making the Decision to Own a Pet USAA Community.jpg

Owning a pet can be fun, rewarding and good for you.

According to the National Institute of Health, among many other benefits, pet ownership is shown to reduce stress and help safeguard against depression and loneliness. We are all more isolated from our friends and family, and I can attest my pet has been a comfort duing the past six months. Pets offer unconditional love and all they ask for in return is proper care and attention.


Picture of My Dog Bailey USA Community.jpgMy dog Bailey brings me so much joy. He encourages me to get outside for exercise, he is my companion when my spouse is away on duty, he provides unwavering love (he never gets upset with me) and he provides comfort and security on nights I spend alone. He has even helped me make friends. He is a great conversation starter with new neighbors and has introduced me to some fellow pet owners at the local dog park. (Who says making new friends  after a PCS isn't easy? Consider getting a pet!)




There are few things your family needs to consider before getting a pet.


If you live on an installation, be sure to check the housing office's pet policies before you adopt. Along with the housing office, many landlords, apartment complexes and town homes have rules regarding the breed and the quantity of pets you may own. The next step is to decide what type of pet is best for your family. For example, if you are not regularly active, do not get a dog that is high energy, if you are a late sleeper, birds are not your best choice. Make sure to do lots of research and planning before you choose. Once you have decided what pet fits perfectly, consider adopting through your local humane society, ASPCA, rescue, municipal shelter or animal control.


You must keep in mind that adopting a pet is a serious decision, especially for military families who face long absences of one caretaker, frequent moves and hectic schedules. When you adopt a pet, you are making a pledge to care for this animal for the remainder of its life. Do not adopt a pet on a whim, without considering the ramifications and responsibilities. One of the major responsibilities is the cost of pet ownership. Make sure to research the average cost of the pet you are interested in and make sure to build a budget to ensure you can properly provide for the pet (have a contingency plan for emergencies - veterinarian bills can be steep).


You also need to consider how you will handle a pet after having children. I see way too many people giving away their pets because they decide having a pet and a newborn is too much work. I will admit my own dog Bailey got less attention for the first few months of my daughter’s life. However, when I see my 6 month old smiling and laughing as the dog walks by, I know those few months of struggling were worth it.


If you want a pet but are unsure you can make the commitment necessary to care for the pet its entire life consider fostering a pet. You can find pets to foster by contacting your local rescue organizations and shelters for fostering applications. You could also help a fellow military member who is on deployment by taking care of their pet while they are gone. Dogs on Deployment is a national non-profit which provides an online network for service members to search for volunteers who are willing to board their pets during their owner's service commitments.


Additional Resources:


Pets for Patriots®, Inc., is a charity that helps service and veteran members of the United States military adopt adult and at-risk shelter pets. Its mission is to consistently give the gifts of fidelity, joy and companionship to both pet and person. Pets for Patriots® is one of the only organizations in the country dedicated to both homeless pets and military personnel at any stage of their careers and from all armed forces.


Learn about Pet Insurance through USAA Insurance Agency at



Pet health insurance is administered by Embrace Pet Insurance Agency, Limited Liability Company and underwritten by one of the licensed insurers of American Modern Insurance Group, Incorporated, including American Modern Home Insurance Company doing business as in California as American Modern Insurance Company (License Number 2222-8), and American Southern Home Insurance Company. Coverage is subject to policy terms, conditions, limitations, exclusions, underwriting, review and approval, and may not be available for all risks or in all states. Rates and discounts vary, are determined by many factors and are subject to change. Wellness rewards are offered as a supplementary benefit to the pet health insurance policy and are not an insurance product. Wellness rewards are offered and administered by Embrace Pet Insurance Agency in the United States. © 2022 American Modern Insurance Group, Incorporated.


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