Responsible Pet Giving During the Holidays

February 12th, 2013 posted by

A perfect Christmas morning: little children diving into a big pile of packages. It is ultimate chaos. What could possibly make it better? A new Christmas pet? Each year, begging children, and commercials showing a new puppy in a box under the tree, inspire people to give pets as gifts. Why not? Although the magic moment with the camera might happen, what happens right after that? The new animal has just been brought into ultimate chaos, which is a terrifying experience for the animal. Not only that, but the physical environment is extremely dangerous, and it is a day when all the people are going to be distracted most of the time. The new animal is very likely to eat something that could make it sick. Scarfed tinsel, ribbon, or packing material may require emergency surgery, or even cause death. A bite into a light cord can cause electrocution. You might even step on a pet playing under wrapping paper. Because the people are distracted, it is likely that the new pet will soil a carpet, which is going to make somebody mad. Then there are the Christmas goodies. Chocolate is toxic to pets. Alcohol is very toxic. Will somebody leave an eggnog where the pet can sample it? Fatty gravy, a turkey bone, stolen plastic people toys all could cause big health problems for your new pet. The adults had no sleep the night before Christmas, and the kids not much more than that. The kids and the pet will soon be exhausted. Then what happens? Is there a safe prepared place for the new pet to go to rest? Will the animal be tossed into some empty room where it may howl or scratch furniture, climb curtains or chew something it shouldn’t? Is the family going out for hours? Beth Wheeler at Hearts United for Animals in Nebraska warns about giving pets as Christmas gifts. “The holidays are a very busy and stressful time,” she says. “It’s not the best time to add a new pet. Pets need to have the right start in a family or bad habits can develop.”

Some Questions to Consider

Do these people really want a pet? And, if so, is this the right pet? Kids always want a pet, so you can’t go by them. Are they old enough for the responsibility of having one? Animal experts everywhere warn that small children and small animals are a bad combination. Even in innocence, little children are often very rough on little or baby animals. On Christmas there is no chance the adults can be supervising every second. Far too often the result is an injured or a terrified pet that bites or hides. Such animals end up dumped at shelters. Many shelters report a big increase in unwanted pets, especially purebred dogs, shortly after the holidays. Is it okay to give pets to adults? Adults like to select a nice animal to give their grandmother, but they don’t ask first. Then, because it was a loving gift, Granny is stuck with it even if she doesn’t want an animal at all, or doesn’t like this breed or even the species. “It is inappropriate for another person to make that decision for a family,” says Wheeler. “Adding an animal to a family is a very long term commitment and requires considerable thought … we have many dogs at the shelter who were given as pets to people who really didn’t want a pet.” What should you do about pets as presents? Never let a pet be an unplanned purchase. It isn’t fair to the pet and it isn’t fair to the pet’s new owners. Don’t bring the new pet into the house on Christmas. It’s hard to resist the chance for a Kodak moment, but if you love animals, wait. On Christmas give a stuffed toy, and a promise to go help pick out the right pet after the holidays. Ask first. Well before the holidays, discuss with the adults whether they want a pet at all and if so what kind and what age? Let them prepare before the pet comes home. A pet is a lifetime of responsibility, not a toy to tire of and throw away. Before you choose a pet, talk and listen to knowledgeable people in the field. What you think you want may be entirely wrong for the situation. Select your pet carefully from an animal shelter or a rescue group. Those guys need homes. PETsMART Charities work with local animal shelters to bring pets into PETsMART stores for adoption. Have all pets spayed or neutered. The Humane Society of the United States says four to six million unwanted animals are euthanized every year. Send a card to your shelter with a holiday donation. The people deserve thanks and the shelter can always use the cash. (4 Posts)

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Cindy Rowe
Cindy Rowe (7 Posts)

Cindy Rowe is the owner/editor of Crazylou Creations blog. On the blog, you will find a little bit of crazy, and a whole lot of fun! As a FT working mother, she still finds time to create crafts, play around in the kitchen, plan parties and exercise. You'll find all of this and more on her blog!

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