How do you navigate pet ownership amidst the complex social dynamic that is polyamory?
I’ve written extensively over the years about the human relationships that make up poly life, but what about the bond we share with our pets? When getting a new pet, who should be involved in the decision-making process? Should new partners be involved in caring for existing pets?
These are important questions to ask whenever animals are present in our poly circles. Here are four more things to discuss as a group to ensure that your pets get all the love and care they deserve.
Pets and Polyamory: 4 Questions
1. Whose names are on the vet file?
This might not seem like an important consideration seeing as you can love and care for a pet just the same without being their legal owner, but it is something you’ll need to agree upon before bringing a pet into your poly life.
Most vet clinics allow for an owner and co-owner to be entered into their database, meaning that these two people can make important decisions about the pet’s care. They are also on the hook financially for any vet bills that may arise.
2. Who covers the cost of keeping the pet?
Speaking of bills, sharing your life with a pet isn’t cheap. There’s the cost of licensing and daily upkeep, as well as the aforementioned veterinary fees. How do you intend to share the financial responsibility? Some members of your polycule might decide they want no part in caring for the pet, financially or otherwise.
Before bringing a new fur baby home, have a larger discussion about things like allergies, phobias, and everyone’s general feelings towards animals. Be sure that you’re bringing your pet into a loving, supportive environment.
3. Who’s responsible for pet care?
Often the question of pet care comes down to who’s around to do it. In monogamous relationships, it’s easy to appoint a caregiver or to share the task equally. In polyamory, pet care can look a little different.
In my case, my partner and metamour live with our dog and take care of her from Monday to Friday. On weekends I take over and give them a little break. (Our pet is a very rambunctious yellow lab who wakes up with the sun!)
My metamour and I are listed as owner and co-owner and even though I don’t see her every day, I consider her very much a part of my family.
4. Where will your pet live?
Before bringing your pet home, think about their needs and whose home and lifestyle would suit them best. Some pets are super social and love a home filled with people and other pets. Some are more solitary or anxious and need a quiet, predictable life.
In all cases, your pet needs a home base, where they feel comfortable and in control of their domain. Some animals are more adventurous and can handle moving from place to place, but most pets need consistency and a solid routine.
What do you think? Is it wise to share a pet with other members of your polycule? Do you have any petamour stories to share?