Think before you buy a pet for Christmass |

Think before you buy a pet for Christmass

Kate Ahrens
Special to the Sky-Hi Daily News

As the holiday season approaches, you or someone you know may be thinking of getting or giving a pet as a gift for the holidays. A pet should never be given as a gift without knowing they are truly wanted and can be afforded.

If you do decide to give a pet as a gift, or if you are getting a pet for yourself, please consider adopting from your local shelter, a rescue group, or from stores like PetSmart and Petco. Rescue groups bring their animals to these stores so you can see them in person versus online. With the continuing raiding and closing of puppy mills, many rescue groups have pure breed puppies and adult dogs that desperately need homes. You can get on the Internet and Google the type of breed that you are interested in, and rescue groups that have puppies and dogs of that breed will come up.

Puppies become dogs and kittens become cats. The beauty of adopting an adult dog is that it has already gone through the puppy issues like housetraining and teething (chewing). An adult cat will often be litter-box trained saving you the hassle.

An animal that has been surrendered doesn’t mean it is a reject. There are many reasons an animal is given up. The reason can be anything from allergies to the pet, death of the owner, divorce, a new baby, or moving to a place that doesn’t allow pets.

As houses continue to foreclose across the country, people aren’t the only ones losing their homes. Beloved family pets are being abandoned or dropped off at already overcrowded shelters.

Before getting a pet, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Can I commit to at least 10 years of taking care of it? Many dogs live to be 15 years of age or more while cats can live into their 20s.

2. Can I afford an emergency visit to the vet? I highly recommend pet insurance. Perhaps that makes you laugh. Pet insurance can cost approximately $20 per month. If you can’t afford that, you may want to reconsider your decision about getting a pet. An emergency can run into the hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars and people are faced with the decision of euthanizing their pet. Not because they don’t love their pet, but because they can’t afford the cost. Another option to pet insurance is to put money aside each month for unexpected trips to the vet.

3. Will I be able to spend quality time with my pet? Animals need companionship and love and that takes time.

4. What will I do with the pet if I go out of town?

5. Will I be able to afford boarding?

6. Who will take care of my pet if something happens to me?

Years ago, I read a slogan for a rescue group that has stayed with me. It stated:

“Don’t breed or buy, while shelter animals die.” Approximately FIVE million (yes, million) animals are euthanized per year because no one wants them. This figure is on the rise because of the foreclosure situation. This number could be reduced if people would spay or neuter their pets.

If you aren’t ready to commit to owning a pet, consider fostering one from a rescue group or shelter. This kind act allows another animal to come in to a rescue group or shelter and you get to experience the joys of having a pet on a temporary basis. Plus you’ll be able to find out if you are indeed ready to take on the responsibility of having a pet on a permanent basis.

I wish you all a Happy Holiday.

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