Kuva: Tommi Puska
Kuva: Tommi Puska

Finns seem particularly fond of their furry friends. Take a stroll through a park and you’ll see a variety of creatures on leashes: dogs, cats, ferrets and even bunnies. According to the Finnish KennelClub there are about 600 000 dogs in Finland. That’s one dog for every 8 people!
Owning a pet in Finland is a full-time job as apartment living means your critter is going to require daily exercise, cat or dog. Off-leash pets aren’t allowed, even cats have to be leashed, unless in designated dog parks.

Before you head off to a breeder, consider rescuing an animal from a shelter. There are many cats and dogs (and other interesting creatures) in need of a good home. They can be found online at ksesy.fi and Kodittomat.fi – unfortunately the websites are only in Finnish.
“We got our cats from a shelter, they have curious characters.” says Ilkka Turunen, IT student.
If you want a purebred pup head over to Koirat.com for a comprehensive list of registered breeders but be prepared to spend upwards of 600 on a puppy. Mixed breeds are more easily found through local advertisements.
“Finland does have puppy mills, people who whelp their dogs from every heat, register every other litter and sell the other ones on the black market,” warns Jenna Hellman, a breeder in Häijää. Puppy mill ’breeders’ put profit before the welfare of their animals so think carefully before supporting that industry.

Owning a pet is a huge responsibility and before committing to an animal that will depend entirely on you for survival, here are a few things to consider: Initial cost of purchase/adoption,m onthly expenses, veterinarian expenses, pet insurance, current lifestyle and how pet will fit into or change that, suitability of home environment, long-term commitment, b ear in mind that certain breeds require extra care in the Finnish winter.

If you want to travel with your pet, a pet passport is available from your vet but a microchip will be required first. A microchip is also required for insurance purposes and KennelClub registration.
Puppies and kittens are adorable but they require absolute devotion.
“A dog needs constant care and company. It’s a pack animal, can’t be left alone in an apartment for long hours every day,” says Yvonne Wuoti, a breeder in Porvoo.
So be sure you can commit to looking after a pet for the next 10–20 years. Take good care of them and they’ll be your friend for life.

Suzanne van Rooyen