Bear with me. It’s probably already too late to remind those who are going to do this for Christmas, but I am going ahead with my dire warning about pet’s as presents for Christmas. This entry isn’t going to coddle anyone, either. I’m shooting straight here, because I am angry as hell about this continuing to be an issue year after year. I think being kind and gentle has had little to no effect on waking people up to this reality. Cue the suffering of the helpless in the wake of urges and poor planning.
First things, I want you to look long and hard at the image in this photo before you follow through on a knee jerk or even semi thought out adoption or buy of a pet this holiday season. Seeing this was like a punch in my gut. I wish I could take her, but I know my home is not the right home for her right now, because I have a dog and my roommate has two cats; there is a baby downstairs that has to be considered as well. Oh, yes, it’s a lot more than just your family unit that requires thinking about. Who’s going to watch your dog when you go away and can’t bring them? Are their children in your neighborhood who will want to interact with your new pet? How will they behave if a repairman comes into your home, or a landlord, a coworker, the boss….There is a lot to consider and Christmas gift pets are often given short shrift on that consideration, paying a very serious price, usually their lives.
First of all, animals are not disposable accouterments to augment your style. They’re living, breathing lives with needs and feelings. They grow up, and throughout their lives they will make messes that shame toddlers. Dogs and cats cannot be left alone for long periods of time. Not only do they get lonely, but they also require bathroom time and food. Gasp! They want companionship and isn’t that why you got them? Don’t ever buy/adopt a dog for protection. That endangers the life of the dog. And, please, do not get a pet because you think it’s just the cutest thing ever, and will look great carried about in a purse.
I don’t mean to be sarcastic (or maybe I do because of the persistence of the problem), but it always seems that people do not consider the full job that pets become when you accept them into your life. Getting a pet should never be a whim, and you can’t gift an animal to another person as a surprise because you need to be sure their personalities mesh. Yes, their personalities. As for protection, you had best be investing in a lot of expensive and time consuming training to control that dog, or you’re sentencing them to death. You could be anyway, planning to send them into the proverbial fire for you.
Repeat pet owners get what I’m saying. They have lived among animals for years and see their eccentricities and have put in a lot of hours caring for them. Imagine, if you will, that the cute puppy you have just got to have is really a toddler—for the next 15 years at least. The commitment is for real. Repeat pet owners know it and they enjoy the time, lamenting that it’s not longer. I’m one and I see my baby girl as my child. She is as dependent upon me as a real baby. My gut cinches at the thought of her being abandoned and neglected by her first family and I will never allow that to happen to her again. I’m her protector now, and I don’t expect her to protect me against home invasions. There are weapons for that, if you’re concerned.
Let’s frame this conversation with a few facts:
Did you know the #1 reason people give for returning an animal is that they didn’t realize the commitment necessary was so extensive? Because I guess they thought they’d walk themselves and feed themselves and bathe themselves….
Many pets that come into shelters are elderly, and the families no longer wan to give them time after the years the pets have given them, because it’s too hard or too expensive. Hey, why not? We do this with grandma too.
“Pets are not disposable. They become family members,” Price said. “This is not a one or two year commitment. It’s a lifetime commitment. The holidays are just not the time to get a puppy or a kitten.”
Please do the world and animals a favor: do your research before settling on a pet. This means researching the breed. Going to shelters and meeting with animals. Babysitting a dog or cat for a friend for an extended period to get a real feel. Brush up on pet health. Also, do not for any reason wrap a pet in a box. You’ll traumatize them. If you have small children, the energy of Christmas is too much for pets new to the home. You’ll want to introduce your baby to your new baby in a quiet way and supervise them (always).
If you want to surprise someone with the promise of getting them a cat or dog, wrap a cat or dog item/toy and then proceed through a rescue once you’ve gotten really clear with yourself about your expectations versus reality. Above all, if you’re a good person, continue to be a good person and adopt don’t shop when you find the right pet for you and know you will love them the rest of their life. Returning an animal to a shelter is cruel and almost always due to the negligence of the adopter not knowing what they’re doing yet or thinking there’s nothing to pet ownership and finding out it’s a lot of work.
- Easter is a huge strain on shelter resources for an influx of Rabbits and ducks.
- Shelters often take in small animals and no one goes there looking for them.
- The majority of shelters in the US euthanize animals after a week or two weeks of being in the facility. This doesn’t take into consideration their age. Puppies/kittens are euthanized beside older pets.
- Shelters are overwhelmed. Please spay and neuter your pet. You’ve no business being a backyard breeder as this only exacerbates the issues of pet overpopulation and abuse. Real breeders spend years learning about their breed and proper practices.
- Films featuring specific animal breeds spur on the pet trade for that pet and result in a high rate of shelter animals. This happened after the relase of the 1996 101 Dalmatians film. Dalmatians are high energy dogs and families were not prepared to deal with them.