In my life I have cared for many animals, different shapes, sizes, living requirements and needs. The one point that is the same in each one of my experiences is that I have had to consider what is best for that particular being. I have had to make many hard choices on behalf of another living being, most of the time the choices are not what I want which makes it even more difficult. But still, the choice must be made according to what is best for the animal.
I have placed myself in the position before in my life where I was not properly prepared and/or equipped to give an animal the best life possible (within the restrictions of this "modern living"). Obviously the first point to realise is that this world no longer offers the best life possible for animals in their natural habitats because we are busy destroying those habitats and/or hunting down the animals. At this current time we must give an animal the best possible life we are able to within our lives - and by saying this I am specifically NOT including the scenario of not having the necessary financial support to give an animal what it needs. It is simple, if you do not have the funds to give an animal the basic requirements for it to live a comfortable life then you should not have that animal.
It is important that you be able to recognise if/when you are unable to give another being the quality of life it requires to be able to live a comfortable life (health & nutrition included). Recognising this reality is difficult, maybe at times even more difficult than actually making the choice to place the animal in a home or institution better equipped to meet its needs. At least when you are able to see that the animal you are taking care of is miserable or unhealthy it becomes easier to make that choice to give it a better life, no matter the personal cost to you.
The sad reality is that these animals are completely dependent on us as their caretakers. Many types of animals become emotionally dependent as well as relying on us for their survival (like dogs). There is nothing that they can do if we do not make the choice that is best for them - they have to suffer through it. The best we can do for them is to make sure that we are giving them what they need, physically and psychologically. This comes from investigation - having access to the internet means that you no longer have an excuse for your ignorance. The simplest things such as a good nutrition can make a huge difference in an animal's life - and within this point it is important to realise that many manufacturers of animal foods do not have the animals' best interests at heart.
A common belief in people is that "I know best" without any real investigation. I cannot imagine how much harm this belief causes to countless beings in this world. This is the belief that leads to abuse, whether it is intended as such or not - and not only in the lives of animals but also in the lives of people - simply because one person refuses to let go of their pride and ego and consider the possibility that they may be wrong.
There are so many ways we hurt each other and the beings we share our lives with. We exhibit the kind of actions that we would never want someone else to do to us. The worst part is that all of this cruelty is taking place because we are consciously choosing to participate in it - it's not like we are forced into it. We have the ability to change and treat all life with respect and consideration.