Pets as Presents

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CULLMAN – All over the country this Christmas, people will be going to their local shelters or breeders and bringing home adorable furry friends as presents. The idea of handing your child or significant other a beautiful pet with a bow around its neck is a sort of picturesque gift. However, there has been controversy over the issue of giving animals as gifts.

For a number of years, many animal activists have spoken out against buying animals as presents, because of the fear that these animals would have a higher rate of return. However, according to recent studies conducted in 2013 by the ASPCA says otherwise.

“Denying adopters who intend to give the animals as gifts may unnecessarily impede the overarching goal of increasing adoptions of pets from our nations’ shelter system,” said the study. “ We found that receiving a dog or cat as a gift was not associated with impact on self-perceived attachment, or whether the dog or cat was still in the home. These results suggest there is no increased risk of relinquishment for dogs and cats received as a gift.”

Candie Horsley, Cullman Animal Shelter Manager, said as much when asked about her professional opinion on the subject.

“We average about the same amount of adoptions as any other month,” said Horsley. “That being said, they tend to start slow and pick up as the month of December goes on. For the most part, I think adoptions are wonderful any time of year. There are wonderful happy tails of Christmas adoptions and there are also terrible tales.”

Veterinarian Tara Bonds at the Cullman Veterinary Hospital has been treating animals for a decade now. She told her thoughts on the subject, as well as what to think about before getting an animal as a gift.

“I love the thought,” said Bonds. “However, this is the gift that needs to come with lots of careful planning and consideration to both parties involved. This is a life-long commitment for both dog and family. Pets tend to grow up and have lots of their own needs that you or your family needs to provide for, financially and emotionally.”

There are many things to consider when you get a pet at any time of the year and is not a commitment to be made lightly. There are many questions to consider before you take the plunge according to Bonds.

“A few questions to ask yourself, Will this pet come from a breeder or a shelter,” she asked. “What does this new pet eat? How do I housebreak/train? Do they need shots? Do I need to groom them regularly? How much activity do they need on a daily basis? Who will watch them when I’m gone? What if they get sick or hurt? Am I ready for this responsibility?  Can I afford this pet?”

According to the experts, when you have all of these questions answered, you can then safely surprise or bring home a new addition to the family. Be responsible when you adopt, and you should have a happy pet and family.

“So please consider this purchase before you act on an impulse. Christmas is filled with so much holiday cheer that sometimes it makes for a stressful environment, which is not the best place to introduce your new buddy to,” Bonds said. “It needs to be all about them and they need the comfort of a less stressful environment. Remember, this is a life-long commitment that does not need to be entered into lightly. The shelters certainly do not need any more Christmas puppies or kittens.”

For more information on adopting an animal, please visit the Cullman Animal Shelter at 935 Convent Rd NE in Cullman, or call 256-734-5448.