Pets do not make wise Christmas presents

Editor,

We are now in the midst of the holiday season and many are trying to figure out what to get family and friends as gifts. Many times, I have heard, “What would be better than a dog or cat (kitten or puppy)?” Wait! Think long and hard on this before you do! A pet is a long-term commitment of several years. Are the people home enough to take care of the pet? Train? Take for walks, play with and give attention to? Or will the pet sit in a cage for 10-12 hours a day and be alone? 

Plus is the environment a stable one? Is there domestic violence in the household? Do tempers tend to flare? Then a pet should not be considered. They will only add to a stressful situation and in many instances, be abused and neglected.

Pets are not cheap. Unfortunately, there is a cost factor involved. Not just food and toys, but yearly vaccines, check-ups, heartworm prevention, spaying/neutering, etc. What if the pet gets sick or hurt? Normal yearly maintenance fees of food and health checks can add up to a few hundred dollars a year, but what if there’s an emergency? These costs can go from a couple hundred dollars to the thousands. Can the family you’re considering this pet for afford this? Then a pet may not be a good option for them. If they want to love and care for a pet and cannot afford one, shelters more than welcome volunteers to come in and help.

If you think this is the right option, then there are a few other things to consider.

Research and match the lifestyle to the pet. Just because Disney or “Game of Thrones” used a certain breed in a movie or show, does not mean it’s a good family pet. Do your homework. Ask questions. 

Also, check your shelters and rescue groups. If you do want a purebred, you do not have to go to a breeder. About 35 percent of our rescues out there are purebreds. I have had five purebred German Shepherds, all great dogs and ALL rescues.

Once you do decide, do check your shelters and rescue groups. You will be amazed at the love you will receive from these animals.

Better yet, wait until after the holidays are over and life is back to normal. Give it 1-2 months after Christmas and the shelters/rescue organizations will start to fill up with the tossed-aside Christmas present pets that people didn’t want or realized they couldn’t take care of. Then go look.

Animals are a lot of work and responsibility. They’re not for everyone and that’s OK. They depend on us for care and well-being. Their quality of life, good or bad, is on us and we need to take this seriously. We actually need to do better.

Please support your local rescue groups and shelters. You won’t regret it. I don’t.

Kathleen Murphy

DVM

St. Joseph