As a lifelong animal lover, I recommend for every prepared household to own a pet. I think that pets bring great value to a human's life at both home and away. However, I cannot stress how important it is for you to be prepared before getting your first pet. Here are some steps to follow before welcoming a pet into your family.
1) Do Your Research. Don't just jump into getting a pet. Research is the most important step there is. Start your search on Petfinder, an online, searchable database of animals who need homes. It is also a directory of more than 13,000 animal shelters and adoption organizations across the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
I did research for those of you who live in the areas that I service. The Animal Rescue League of New Hampshire is in Bedford. There's a Humane Society in both Derry and Nashua. In addition, the Salem Animal Rescue League is a non-profit organization whose goal is to find permanent, loving homes for the abandoned and unwanted animals in Salem, NH and surrounding towns.
Two other great pet adoption resources for the whole state of New Hampshire are The New Hampshire Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the New Hampshire Humane Society.
2) Pet-Proof Your Home. Before you get your pet you need to make sure your house will be suitable for your pet. The American Humane Association has an informative list that describes how to pet-proof your home.
3) Explore Your Options. Don't get the first pet up for offer. Once you know what pet you are getting, you have to get the right supplies for it. Be sure to pick out a pet with relatively the same level of energy as you. If your pet has a lot of energy and you're not an active person, it may not be a good pet for you. The same mismatch may happen if you have a lot of energy and your pet doesn't.
4) Make Sure You Get Your Pet Home Safely. Before you pick up your pet, make sure you have a place for it to ride home. This will prepare you for future trips with your pet as well.
Make sure that you plan accordingly. If you do all of these steps then you will have a great experience with your first pet.