Post by Blog Manager Robbi Hess
A local shelter is advertising "half-price pet adoptions for the holidays." I understand their wanting to get the pets adopted and get them into loving forever homes. I am conflicted though because I've written in the past about not giving pets as holiday gifts — not puppies at Christmas or bunnies at Easter. Pets are not a gift to be given on a whim. It's not the same as giving an ugly sweater that can be returned or shoved into the back of your closet until the person who gave it to you visits again. Pets are decades-long commitments. Pets need love, attention, affection, exercise, vet care… the list goes on.
I have a friend who wants to "get a puppy for the kids for Christmas" and I cautioned her that the puppy will be a great source of joy and entertainment until he needs to be walked in the middle of the night, until his messes need to be cleaned up from the carpet, until he learns not to chew shoes, etc. "Getting a puppy for the kids" really means "getting a puppy for the adults" because puppies need training and it's typically the adults who understand how to do that better than a child who can't even throw his socks into the hamper.
Please, please do not give a pet on a whim. Only give a pet if you and your entire family are prepared for it. As the adult in the household, it will usually boil down to the pet and the inherent responsibilities becoming yours. You need to be prepared for that. I can't imagine there is anything worse for a pet than to be adopted from a shelter, be in a loving home for a month or so and then have to be returned to the shelter because "he just wasn't the right fit."
If you want a pet for the holidays and a) you've never been a pet owner or b) you aren't certain whether a new pet will fit in with your lifestyle or with your other pets, here are some ways you can make a difference in the life of a shelter animal:
- "Adopt" a single animal in a shelter, but do it virtually. Go to a shelter or a rescue and ask to virtually adopt a particular pet. This means you will provide funding for his care — anything from additional treats, a better bed or blanket
- Go to the shelter with your children and spend time walking the dogs there. Have the kids help clean a litter box or clean out the dog's cage. Giving them first hand knowledge of what goes into animal care will either fuel their desire for a pet or help them realize that pets are a lot of work!
- Use the power of your social media to spread the word about adoptable pets. Take photos of the pets in the shelters — not in their cages — but outside where they can be in their true element and where their personality can shine through.
- If you have a friend or relative who believes that a puppy or kitten under the tree is a great idea, talk to them and tell them not only the joys that come with pet ownership, but also the work and expense involved.
- If you know you want to get involved in helping pets, but just aren't sure how to do it come to BlogPaws 2014 or join the BlogPaws Community — you can interact with others who are determined to make a difference in the life of pets. Pet shelters and pet rescue groups are always looking for volunteers with various skill sets; find a group that appeals to you and jump in. Make 2014 the best year yet for an animal in a shelter.
What can you do, or will you do, to jump into Giving Month for pets?