There’s an old saying, “See the end at the beginning,” and it applies to all of the important decisions in life, especially when it comes to adopting kittens and puppies. They are living, sentient creatures, not stuffed toys.
Jonathan Klein, founder of West LA-based dog-training center “I Said Sit” weighs in on pets as Christmas gifts (“Do Pets Make Good Holiday Gifts?” The Pet Press, Vol.12, Issue 3, November-January 2011) . With the holiday rush – shopping, parties, house guests, etc. – the author maintains animals often get “lost in the shuffle or worse, neglected.” Unless the receiver of the gift is prepared to make a commitment of time, energy and money, the giver is putting an innocent animal at risk.
Impulse buying of pets at shopping mall pet stores is advised against by Klein. Your dollars are going to support mass breeders of puppies aka puppy mills who follow “questionable breeding practices”. Meanwhile, how many perfectly healthy animals languish on death-row in shelters? Besides, there are numerous pet rescue organizations in search of the ideal home for the cats and dogs they are temporarily fostering.
Consider Klein’s suggestion about alternative choices of smaller, furry pets like gerbils and hamsters. The area required to care for these animals may be more suited to your home. But again, attention and love must also be given these animals, regardless of their size. Pet-proofing a home for the newly adopted pet is equally critical, according to Klein. Check for any hazards and put them out of reach: chocolate, raisins, poisonous plants, including mistletoe; electrical cords, tinsel, wrapping paper and holiday decorations. Closing up up any openings in the house or garage and securing loose screens in windows are just as important to your pet’s safety. Additionally, Klein’s checklist includes establishing a “ ‘safe haven’ ” in your home, an area your pet can associate with relaxation and peaceful sleep.
Adopting a pet is very much like welcoming a new baby (except you don’t have to save for their college education!). Get ready for your furry child/children, they have needs besides good, quality food: bedding, toys, grooming accessories and a tracking chip as well as a good vet. The key to success is preparation. Animals are incredibly sensitive to people’s feelings.They have to be for the sake of their survival. Unless you or the person for whom you’re adopting is up to the responsibility of long-term, attentive, loving care — consider less lively Christmas gift options.