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Pets as Gifts


Looking for a cat or dog to surprise your loved ones for the holidays? Probably best to think twice because, unlike that whiz-bang techno-toy you've got your eye on, you have more to think about than what to do when the warranty runs out. Pets are not inanimate objects -- they are members of the family.

When holiday season comes around, people tend to forget that there is a 10- to 20-year commitment involved in caring for a companion animal. Before obtaining a pet, the entire family should be consulted. In fact, if you are thinking of adopting and animal, most humane organizations require interviews with all adults living in the household before making a decision to adopt out a companion dog or cat.

In general Christmas and the first night of Hanukkah are not appropriate times for introducing an animal to a new home -- there usually is too much activity for an animal to be properly welcomed into a new environment -- it's not fair to the animal and doesn't set a good tone for the type of care a new pet requires or deserves. Many humane organizations simply will not adopt out an animal for the purpose of holiday gift giving. Up to half of them end up back at their doorsteps

"We won't let people adopt pets if they call and say 'I want to buy a puppy for my kids for Christmas,'" says Mike Niel of the Animal Center & Humane Society. "Pets require constant care and attention. We don't want people to get them because they're cute."

If someone wants to adopt an animal from the ASPCA for a gift, an Animal Placement staff member will make two phone calls. The first will ensure that the recipient does indeed want an animal, and the second will inform that person of the type of animal chosen. Because it is essential that the animal and the owner form a strong relationship, they recommend that the potential owner come in to meet the animal before being presented with him or her.

If you're shopping for someone who wants a pet, The ASPCA suggests a
book about responsible ownership. If the person is interested in specific breeds or mixed-breeds, purchase a book that discusses different breeds. You can always give a gift certificate stating that you will purchase an animal of the person's choice for him or her after the holidays.

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