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Monday, December 22, 2008

Pets as presents a good idea? It can be.

Through out this article I refer only to adopting an animal.  I do not believe in buying an animal from a breeder or from a pet store, who usually come from puppy mills or other less than satisfactory circumstances.  (Why reward these people with money for creating a life when millions of animals are killed every year in shelters??)  I guarantee anyone will be able to find an animal they want from an animal shelter or a breed rescue.  There are millions of animals who need good homes, just waiting for their new parent to walk through the door!

Pets as presents can be a good idea-ONLY if the recipient has made the decision to adopt a pet.  Pets can be at least a 20 year commitment.  Someone who doesn't want a pet, may mistreat them, neglect them, fail to care for them, or any number of other things.  It can also cause a problem between the people involved if someone feels obligated to keep a pet they did not want in the first place.

Adopting a pet is a very rewarding experience.  Some shelters allow you to do something called "Foster to Adopt", which means you will foster the animal for a few weeks to make sure it is a good fit.  At the end of that time, or before, you can return the animal if they are not working out.

The best thing for someone to do is to buy a gift certificate for an animal.  The person goes to the shelter, adopts an animal and you pick up the tab! offers these and some local shelters do, too.  Many people want to choose their own pet.  The animal will be living with them and it is a big decision.  They might want to wait until after the hectic holiday season when they will have more time to spend with them once they get them home to ease the transition.

Adopting a pet, a kitten or adult, is a big responsibility but it is very rewarding.  Younger animals require more time, more training, more energy.  Older animals (1 year +) are less energetic and can be relaxing members of your family.  That is not to say that older animals won't play.  They can and do!  They just rest eventually and it seems that kittens and puppies don't!

I have read about giving pets as gifts and some sites say that pets given as gifts are kept longer than those people adopted from a shelter or as a stray.  Other sites say the opposite.  I don't know what the truth is but I don't think people should treat a pet a certain way, with a certain commitment based on how they received them.  Pet parents need to take the commitment seriously and keep the animals that they say they are going to keep.  There are very few reasons that I feel are justified for relinquishing an animal.

Adopting a new pet is a wonderful opportunity for parents to teach their children responsibility in the house with taking care of a pet and with keeping commitments.  I hope that parents use the opportunity to raise educated, compassionate children and show them that when you adopt an animal, it is for the rest of their life.  We have too many animals being taken to shelters for ridiculous reasons, such a moving.  You can move with an animal, it just requires effort that some people don't want to deal with.  If that is the case, don't get an animal in the first place.  You get an animal's hopes up, bring them into your home, then bring them back to the shelter when they are inconvenient.

Be responsible and teach your children what it really means to adopt an animal.

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