Pets as Gifts

Many animals end up in shelters with less than "merry" futures.

Placing a loving animal under the Christmas tree is an old tradition in America, but another dark tradition has arisen as a large percentage of these animals are tossed aside and end up in a shelter.

That's why the Lowndes County Animal Shelter is asking people to reconsider giving a pet this holiday season.

"They recommend if you want to get someone a pet for the holidays, that maybe for the Christmas gift, you get a gift basket or a book on pet care. A pet is a decision that someone needs to make for themselves, based on the needs of their family,” says Paige Dukes, shelter spokesperson.

Shelter experts say if you are bound and determined to adopt a pet, you should take into consideration all the needs that go with having a young animal, and with many animals living more than 10 years, shelter managers say it’s like adding another person to your family.

If you decide to get a pet anyway, shelter leaders ask that you should get it spayed or neutered as soon as possible. Otherwise, your pet may help contribute to the crowding of local shelters.

Experts say buying a pure bread animal to breed later is an expensive investment because the puppies or kittens also need expensive vet care before being sold. Extended Web Coverage

Tips on Adopting a Pet
When the time is right and you feel you're up to the responsibility of owning an animal, there are many things to consider. Where will you look? What breed will you get? How much money do you have to spend on this new addition to the family? spcaLA offers the following advice to assist in your search for your new best friend:

1) Evaluate your needs
Find out what breed of dog or cat best suits your lifestyle. Are you active? Are you home a lot? Do you have children? Do you work 20 hours a day? These are all things that need to be considered before adopting an animal.

2) Check out your local animal shelter
Many people's first inclination is to go to a pet store; however, shelters have many dogs and cats to choose from in all shapes and sizes. We recommend calling the shelter first to determine what documents you should bring when adopting an animal.

3) Ask shelter staff lots of questions
These are the people that are with the animals every day. Most likely, the shelter staff will be able to determine the animal's personality traits, likes, dislikes and temperament. Also, if you’re looking for a specific breed or personality type, the shelter staff may be of help.

4) Keep your options open
A pet doesn’t have to be a puppy or kitten to be a loyal companion. Older animals have a lot to offer. Often times older dogs are already house-broken and leash-trained, and older cats may be litterbox trained.

5) Take your time
It may take awhile to find that perfect pet, so be patient. You may need to visit the shelter a few times before you find the one that’s right for you. It's a commitment for the pet's lifetime after all.

6) Make a decision as a family
If this pet will be a family pet, make your family a part of the decision. How does the dog get along with everyone and how does everyone get along with the dog? After all, remember you are choosing an animal to be a member of the family. Your pet may live as long as 16 or 18 years. Are you and your family prepared for such an important commitment?

7) Give your animal some time to adjust
Once you bring your new pet home, remember that he’s in a new place and has to learn the lay of the land. Let him wander around and sniff. If there are children in the home, tell them that like a new kid at school, the animal may need a few days to adjust before he’s comfortable enough to play. Most importantly, be patient. It may take a few weeks for the animal to feel at home and for his true personality to emerge.

8) Use your shelter as a resource
Most shelters will be happy to offer advice to keep you and your pet together. Staff often have answers to problems that you may have never thought of. If your pet is having problems adjusting, call your adoption counselor. spcaLA also provides a bilingual animal behavior hotline at (323) 730-5300, ext. 260 as a resource for help.

Source: Contributed to these tips.