One of my greatest joys are my sweet pets. I adore my collie and cats. They provide companionship, comfort, unconditional love and affection.

Kittens, puppies, birds, bunnies, and so on are so adorable and cuddly, but what does owning a pet involve? The obvious needs are physical, food, water, a clean litter box, a clean cage or a fenced in yard in which to run, play and take care of business.

Besides these basics, what else do pets need from us?

They need our time, love and willingness to care for them, while they are young and cute as well as when they get older and may need more care. Pets need to be taken to the veterinarian and healthcare costs money, a cost of pet ownership.

A pet is a responsibility, both emotionally as well as financially, and not just an impulse. All their needs should be considered before pets are brought home.

We don't abandon our family when we move or during a crisis such as a hurricane or tornado, so why would one ever leave a pet behind to fend for itself? Yet our shelters are full of pets that people have left behind when they move or find them inconvenient.

Pet shelters euthanize approximately 1.5 million pets in the U.S. each year, which is extremely sad.

Shelter and rescue pets are not defective: they are loving, kind and need a home with a caring family. When you decide that you have the emotional, physical and financial resources for another pet, please adopt through a shelter or rescue organization. Many rescue organizations partner with local pet stores for adoptions on weekends. The Panhandle Animal Welfare Society, 243-1525, and Save Our Cats and Kittens, 863-5756, are open during the week as well Saturdays.

Both dogs and cats are available from My Safe Place Pet Rescue, 306-1718, in Crestview. They also have a free roaming cat care and adoption center where people can meet the cats. Another organization, Min Pins and Mutts Rescue in Crestview, can be reached at minpinsandmutts@outlook.com.

Please be a committed pet owner - sometimes it isn't easy and may cost money, but think of the lives you are enriching, both yours and your pets.

All of the pets in our family and extended family are re-homed, from a rescue or shelter.

Janice Lynn Crose, a former accountant, lives in Crestview with her husband, Jim; her two rescue collies, Shane and Jasmine; and two cats, Kathryn and Prince Valiant.