Sarah Lightley/ The Broadside
Giving the gift of a pet this holiday season comes with great responsibility. Many shelter animals are adopted and then brought back after the holidays due to the new owners not being able to care for the animal.
Written in a publication from American Humane, “Return-to-shelter rates for dogs and cats have been reported to be between 7-20 percent for the first six months following adoptions.”
When considering adopting a dog, there are many factors to think about. Most shelters have information on the dog or cat on their website, so be sure to see if the dog or cat can handle children. Many shelter dogs or cats are older and may not like children pulling on their tails and ears.
When adopting another animal, think about the animals already in the home. Maybe set up a time to introduce the shelter animal and the animal from home. This is a deal-breaker if the animals do not get along.
Also, think about the home/yard, as certain breeds of dogs need more room to play than others.
Another question to is, how or when to exercise the animal? Small dogs, like Chihuahuas, will not need as much exercise as bigger dogs like Golden Retrievers.
Animals cost a lot of money, so when considering adopting an animal, think about how much they cost and their monthly food bill.
When thinking about adopting a pet for a gift, consider the animal’s mental health. The animal is being placed in a new home with new people. When inviting family over for Christmas dinner, the dog or cat may get freaked out or nervous.
Shawna from the Humane Society of the Ochocos said they tell adopters to give the animal a “few weeks to adjust.”
“The number of people over for the holidays could be overwhelming,” Shawna said.
Easing the pet into a social environment is important. Make sure that the animal is comfortable with its environment and then start to introduce them to others.
When giving a pet as a gift to someone outside of the family, make sure to, “communicate and don’t spring an animal on them,” said Joanne from Brightside Animal Shelter.
Instead of picking the animal out, give someone a gift card to a local Humane Society, so they can go and pick out the right animal for them.
Because of COVID-19, many people have had a lot of free time on their hands. When spoiling a new furry friend this year, make sure to ask the owners what the pet likes. Do not buy treats that will upset the tummies of the animals.
A gift card to a veterinarian clinic to get a dog or cat chipped is a great idea as a gift as well.
Joanne said, “all animals need to be chipped. Shelters and vets have scanners, and if your animal is chipped, they can return your beloved pet to you, should they become lost.”
If set on adoption for a friend or family member, consider this idea from American Humane, “Instead of bringing home an animal right away, consider putting together and wrapping an “adoption kit.” Fill a box with toys, a bed, a leash, a collar, food, treats, and a gift certificate for adoption fees at your local shelter.”
This way, the animal they pick will be the one they are comfortable with and can introduce the animal to their other animals in a controlled environment. By doing this, no one is making a commitment if the animals don’t get along.
“Every year, 5 to 8 million homeless pets are cared for by our nation’s shelters, with a staggering 3 to 4 million of those pets euthanized, even though the overwhelming majority of them are considered to be healthy and adoptable,” according to American Humane. All shelter animals need a forever home, so consider the many factors before suddenly getting an animal.