by J. Lee
CHRISTMAS, A TIME FOR JOY – BUT FOR PETS GIVEN AS GIFTS?
Who has been naughty and who has been nice? It is that time of the year when people get out their Christmas shopping lists. Gifts are fun to give and fun to get. Christmas is all about giving and celebrating with family and friends.
What is not fun are statistics that show pets given as gifts abandoned following Christmas. Sadly shelters fill up with relinquished pets. Similar statistics occur following Easter with the abandonment of rabbits and chicks.
Don’t get me wrong, planning ahead for a pet can be good when the recipient understands the responsibility of a pet, they understand what is required to care for a pet – and they understand medical issues common in some breeds and when they actively participate in choosing their pet.
You can always give a card saying “Merry Christmas, your wish has been granted. You are getting the pet of your choice so lets plan a time to find one”. When the recipient chooses their pet they connect with it and they will bond with it.
When I was a child my uncle had birds, a cat named Tiny and a golden retriever named Queenie. I learned how to properly love and care for animals. I loved Queenie, but as I got older I began asking for my own dog.
When Queenie died my mom and uncle felt it was time for me to get a dog of my own. I was young, but my mom and uncle were there to help me care for her. My uncle lived next door to us. He helped me potty train her. He gave me tips on her care.
Before they agreed my mom and uncle made sure I understood the care required such as walking her, playing with her, feeding, grooming, veterinary needs, shots and licensing requirements.
After Christmas we started looking. My mom had a co-worker who had a litter of poodles. A smaller breed made more sense. No way I could have controlled a larger breed considering my young age.
One morning my mom surprised me. She didn’t tell me where I was going. I arrived at an unfamiliar home. We knocked on the door. To my joy I found out I was there to choose a puppy. I was so thrilled.
I came home with my new furry friend that I named Suzette. As for the name it was probably corny to some readers of this story. Please remember she was a poodle and I was a child. A French name made sense to me. She was part of my life for 12 years until cancer took her life.
Unfortunately I cannot find a photo of her when she was a puppy. I was sitting to her before coming home.
Here (below, right) is a photo of her when she was probably around six years old. She was well cared for. She was a member of the family.
PETS ARE NOT PRESENTS
Pets are not throw away gifts. They are living beings dependent on us for their care.
They have many needs including shelter, food and water. They need to be loved.
Dogs are pack animals. It is important they become part of the family.
1. Animal abandonment skyrockets during the holidays.
2. A person should connect with a pet.
3. Pets are a huge financial responsibility.
4. If you have a kid, your kid will do kid things.
5. Pets aren’t objects or a photo-op.
6. The holidays are a busy, stressful time for even the most well-adjusted pet.
Pets should never be considered as a throw away gift. They should never be given as a gift to a child or adult to be neglected or abused.
Record number of dogs abandoned at Christmas and social media could be to blame – Thoughtless people buying puppies on a whim after spotting them on social media sites have helped contribute to the highest ever number of dogs abandoned around Christmas.
When the recipient is not active in choosing their pets they can resent what they are given.
They might reject it when it doesn’t fit their ideal of the pet or breed they wanted. Resentment can cause the animal to be abused, rejected, abandoned or relinquished.
Three pets are being abandoned every hour during the Christmas period, according to figures released by the RSPCA yesterday.
Jude Clay, a spokesperson for the RSPCA, said: “Christmas is one of our busiest times of year for animal abandonments – second only to the summer when birthing rates are high coupled with people going on holiday.
PUPPY MILLS/PET MILLS
Please avoid buying pets at a pet shop. Most of those puppies, kittens and other animals are acquired by breeders who have little care for the pets they sell. It is all about profit and many pets suffer due to breeder neglect.
There are wonderful pets waiting to find homes. Saving their life could enhance yours. If you are looking for a specific breed most shelters will add you to a breed wish list. When that breed comes in and is ready for adoption you will receive a call.
- Have the recipient be involved in the choice of their pet so they can connect with it.
- Stress pets are not throw away gifts. They are living being dependent on us for their care.
- A pet should not be a present just to be abused, neglected, abandoned or relinquished.
- If the recipient is not mature enough no matter their age to care for a pet they should not have one.
- Involve the recipient by educating them to what is involved to determine if they are responsible enough.
- Make sure the recipient understands the commitment and responsibility.