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
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10 Tips Tor Responsible Dog