Pets as Presents – Is it a Good Idea?

Pet Present

‘Image: Petfinder.com’

The holidays are here and you’re out shopping for the kids at the local mall.  As you frantically wander by the pet shop window, consumed with holiday shopping madness you see these cute little fur balls sleeping, playing, looking cuter than a puppy should and you get this image in your head.  You imagine little Johnny and Sally on Christmas morning overcome with happiness and childlike enthusiasm as they discover you’ve given them a puppy for Christmas.  STOP-RIGHT-THERE…

First off, it is 90% likely that these pet shop puppies have been shipped in from some mass-production puppy mill and buying that puppy will surely not save it.  It will instead open a new spot for another puppy mill produced litter mate to come in and take its place.  All the while, the mom of these puppies is back at the puppy mill, in a cramped and appalling cage, rotting away as she reproduces more puppies at a heinous speed.

‘So what if we adopt’ you tell me?  This is definitely the only route to go when you are ready to bring in a new pet to your home; key words here are, when you are ready.  Don’t get me wrong, rescuing an animal can be an awesome gift and very rewarding, IF you’ve put the appropriate amount of thought and research into it.  Too often puppies and other pets are bought in haste because you want it or the kids want it and no one thought about the lifetime commitment that it takes to properly give this new pet a FOREVER home.  As a result these pets are taken to the local shelter at the first sign of a behavioral issue, because the kids lost interest or because you moved into a new home.

If you are thinking about adopting a pet for yourself, the kids, a friend or family member, please review the following questions before taking on this responsibility.  Sure, a pet is fun and exciting, but when you come down to it, it is a responsibility not only financially but morally and personally as well.

  1.  Do you, the kids, your friend, whomever, really and truly want a dog and everything that comes with it?  Have you really thought about it over the course of several days?
  2. If you have kids or if it is for the kids, how old are they?  Small children are not capable of taking on this responsibility, consider starting out with a hamster or a pet that doesn’t bite if aggravated enough and doesn’t require daily attention and associated chores.
  3. Have you considered not only the initial costs of adopting a pet, but the costs over its lifetime?  A cat or dog, after the initial costs of vaccinations, spay/neuter, supplies and maybe even training is about $350-500 or more every year for possibly more than 15 years.
  4. If this is a pet for your child, are you ready to take over its care after they graduate high school and move on to college?  A dog can live 12 or more years and a cat as many as 20, even elderly pets need love and attention.
  5. Have you researched the care and patience required to potty train, leash train and teach a dog proper manners?  Is this something your kids can handle?  Even after training pets still get sick, have accidents, develop behavior problems and they all need to be handled appropriately.
  6. Are you willing to do whatever it takes to keep the pet in the family regardless of where you live?  This means researching rental properties that allow pets and paying the associated fees, purchasing a new home with your pet in mind and knowing that relocation is just as stressful for a pet as it is anyone else.  If all else fails and you absolutely cannot keep a pet, you must be willing to take the time to find it a new home; just dropping it off at the local shelter is unacceptable and not fair to the pet.  Local shelters have enough costs, high populations of unwanted dogs and limited personnel as it is.

Once you’ve honestly answered the above questions and have decided, ‘yes, I am indeed ready for a pet,’ you now need to research research research.  First you need to research breeds, regardless if you want a purebred or mixed breed.  What breeds best suit your lifestyle?  What size of dog is best for you and your family?  You can learn more about various breeds, their care, possible breed specific health issues, personalities and more here.

Next, you need to research costs associated with the specific type of pet you want to rescue.  Call your local veterinary clinics and find out what the fees are for vaccinations, spay/neuter, office visits, future health visits, etc.  (Most rescued pets will already be spayed or neutered, the adoption fee covers this).  Stop by your local pet stores and price dog food, toys, bedding, kennels, collars, leashes, training products and find out what the introductory training class costs, you may need it.  Keep in mind the cost of emergency pet visits, doggy day care and costs associated with your home.  Do you need a fence?  Do you need baby gates if you want to keep the new dog out of the kitchen?

Once you’re ready to search for that new furry family member you need to research various rescues, shelters, breed specific rescues and their fees, requirements and look over the application process.  Once you’ve found the pet that you think will best suit your family, it is important to take the time to meet that pet and introduce it to your kids and any other pets you have before taking it home.  Once you’ve decided to bring a pet home, remember this is commitment for as long as that pet lives, take care of it, be responsible and most importantly, enjoy your new furbaby.

To find more information about adopting pets, an adoption checklist, tips for bringing home a new pet, training and more, click here.

Thank you for taking the time to Paws’n’Reflect with me!

– Brenda