Adopt a pet for the right reasons - Is this a spur of the moment decision? Did you see a cute furry face in a store window? Is it because your children are hounding you for one? Or is it because you have decided that you want the companionship that an animal can provide during its lifetime?
Consult your entire household - Everyone that has to live with the pet should be in agreement about adopting it. If you are adopting it for your children, are you willing to care for the pet once the kids lose interest? (See Attention Parents below)
Consider your lifestyle - Do you travel a lot or work most of the day? Do you have young children or other pets that may not interact well with a new pet? Is an energetic puppy that needs to be housebroken, prone to chewing everything, and in need of obedience training right for you?
Evaluate living accommodations - Many rental places do not allow pets or restrict what type of pet you can have. Do you anticipate a move in the near future?
Not everyone can live with a pet - Is anyone in your household allergic to pets? Or is anyone in the house fearful of that type of pet?
Time Management - Do you have time to train, socialize, and offer companionship to that animal? Do you have the time to feed, clean up after, groom, exercise, and play with that pet?
Budget expenses for your pet - Do you have the money to pay for food, toys, bowls, collars, cages, obedience lessons, kitty litter, and other such expenses? do you have the money to pay for visits to the veterinarian and the proper vaccinations for that pet?
Pets need room to roam - Do you have the appropriate space for the type of pet you are considering? Are you looking to adopt a large, energetic dog to live in your studio apartment?
Troubleshooting 101 - Are you prepared to deal with problems that may arise from pet ownership? Chewed or scratched furniture, flea infestations, accidents on the good carpet, behavior problems, etc...
Prepare for a lifetime commitment - Are you prepared to make a commitment to that pet for its entire lifetime? They don't remain cute, adorable puppies and kittens forever. Are you prepared to make the commitment to be a responsible pet owner for the next 10-20 years (the average life span of many dogs and cats.