A New Friend for the Holidays?

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An iconic Christmas morning scene is an eager child running to the Christmas tree and peering into a loosely-lidded box and gasping as they see the perfect wet nose of a puppy – the very thing they had pleaded and longed for all year long. So many parents desperately wish to make this iconic scene a family memory for their own children. As a result, many, many puppies and kittens along with other pets are purchased during the Christmas season. But, there are some important things to keep in mind before buying a new pet.

1. Adopt, Don’t Shop

puppies-1871260_1280Photo: Pixabay

There are countless cats and dogs that end up in shelters often euthanized because of lack of homes. Shelters and rescue groups often have many puppies and kittens or young animals to choose from. Also, middle age and older pets are often preferably as they have made it through some of the less than ideal tendencies like cutting teeth, chewing, and having endless energy. Some shelter pets even know tricks and are house-trained – a big plus. Further, some shelters and all rescue groups will have a general sense of the personality and behaviors of the pet you select. They can help match you with a pet that is the best fit for your family’s needs.

2. Avoid Increasing the Pet Overpopulation

cat-1543541_1280Photo: Pixabay

Some cities have less of an overpopulation, but most cities in Texas have a major pet overpopulation problem resulting in countless animals being euthanized on a daily basis. Cities like Houston, among others, have a homeless pet crisis. Breeding dogs and cats and purchasing pets rather than adopting pets that need homes greatly contributes to this crisis. When we purchase pets we not only deny a needy pet a home, we also encourage breeders to continue breeding dogs and cats by lining their pockets. Sadly, many of the pets purchased from breeders end up at shelters and rescue groups after people tire of them.

3. Adopt for Life

cat-1898497_1280Photo: Pixabay

Remember that when you adopt a new furry friend, it should be for the duration of the animal’s life. Dogs and cats bond to humans and see us as their pack or family and offer unconditional love and loyalty. If you cannot offer a loving home and commit to an animal despite life’s ups and downs and changes, then please consider another gift.

4. Consider the Recipient

veterinarians-739252_1280Photo: Pixabay

Can the person you intend to give a pet actually provide for them? Can they give the pet love and attention? Training? Resources if sick? Further, do they want a pet or will this be an unwelcome gift or one that requires more of the person than they can give or are willing to give? If so, reconsider.

5. Children?

boy-and-dog-1876072_1280Photo: Pixabay

While many children love animals, very small children may not be a good fit for all animals. Remember that children have to be taught how to respect and care for animals. They are often rough in their play and may inadvertently hurt the pet by petting too hard, pulling, hitting or biting. An animal, even a very patient one, may understandably growl or nip if the child is harming them. Subsequently, children have to be observed closely with pets to avoid injury to the child and pet. Further, some people change in their devotion to their pet after having a baby. If you plan to have children soon check-in with yourself and make sure you can honor the commitment to your pet while welcoming the blessing of a new child.

6. Travel Plans?

Plano programPhoto: Flickr/Dave Parker

Remember that pets require care even when you are out of town. Consider how owning a pet might require a plan each time you travel. Are you willing to take the pet with you? Hire a sitter? Board the pet?

Pets are a gift that many wouldn’t think of living without (this writer included). But, they also require a lot of time, energy, and a life-long commitment. If you are thinking of getting or giving a pet for the holidays this year please consider adopting a pet from a shelter or rescue group. Remember that the cost is usually much cheaper and typically shots and spay/neuter are included in your adoption fee. Score! Here are some groups you might consider:

Also, if you have a specific breed in mind you can google the breed name and “rescue” and “Texas”. There are so many small non-profit groups aimed at finding loving homes for pets. Happy paw-lidays!