The holidays are here and you know what that means…time with your family, holiday traditions, awesome food, and crazy shopping madness. Still looking for that perfect gift? Why not do a good deed and give two gifts?? Pet adoption is a popular idea at this time of year and you may have seen the recent Pet411 segment on Station14. Not only do you find a gift for that special someone but you’re giving an animal, who would otherwise be cooped up in a shelter, a forever home with you. Yes, forever…
I’ve got nothing against pet adoption. I’ve done it myself and wish that more people would. The Ontario Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) even has a special program called iAdopt to help raise awareness of the plight of animals in shelters and to increase the numbers who get homes. Their website has lots of excellent tips to help you in choosing who to add to your family and how to integrate them into your family. But let us look at “forever”…
Adopting a pet is a commitment that is not to be taken lightly. We see high volumes of animals such as rabbits & ducks around Easter get purchased only to be surrendered, abandoned, or released into the wild. However, around the winter holidays, cats & dogs are often the chosen pets to get adopted. When you get these pets, they often come already being vaccinated and spayed or neutered which is a great thing for them and a savings for you.
Yet, you need to be devoted to them as much as they are devoted to you. Realize that though they are almost always healthy when you bring them home, accidents do happen and if you adopt an adult or senior pet (highly encouraged!) some problems may rear their ugly head in the years ahead. Pets are wonderful but they deserve all the care you can give and this unfortunately comes with a price. Please factor in these extra costs for food, toys, veterinary care, dog & cat licenses, leashes and so on into your yearly budget.
I’ll suggest including an insurance plan or a pet savings account as part of your gift. Many shelters give you up to 6 weeks of free insurance for you to try and investigate as an option but I don’t find too many people continuing it. Another possibility is that your veterinary clinic may offer gift certificates you can purchase to help defray costs for anything the new pet owner may need. This is especially great for university & college students.
Speaking of kids…for a lot of people, they are enamored with the idea of getting a puppy or kitten for a child. I would discourage this from happening as small kids often aren’t the ones who end up taking care of the pet. If they are teenagers, their interests may change and the critter in question may be yours, rather than theirs. Shelters may often have other options such as rabbits, rats, or other pocket pets which still require special care and attention but don’t involve walking & bathing such as dogs but still may be a little less maintenance and easier for kids to manage. It’s still important to know about proper pet care and make sure they have a clean habitat and fresh food.
In short, pet adoption is a wonderful gift for you, the new pet parent, and the animal who gets a home. All I ask if that you commit to them by giving them the care and love they deserve. If now is not a good time to get a pet, consider sponsoring one, fostering a rescue, or volunteering at a shelter and in this way you can still give back to them. I and the rest of Kingston Veterinary Clinic team wish you a happy and wonderful holiday season!
Written by Dr. Ryan Llera