by Shaelyn Saraceni
During the holiday season, it is common for people to get animals (especially puppies) as gifts. They look so cute under that tree, and are adorable when they are small. However, puppies are a huge responsibility that impact your finances, availability, and life in general.
Pets cost a lot of money.
Before even considering getting a pet, it is a important for one to evaluate their financial situation. Pets are extremely expensive, even small ones. According to the Sacramento SPCA, owning a cat or dog may cost more than $1,000 per year, assuming they are fairly healthy (click here to see a chart with costs/expenses of owning a pet). If one feels they may not be able to keep up with all the expenses, then it is definitely not time for them to get a pet. One must be able to care for a pet before they get it. In addition, the yearly expenses do not include all the initial expenses: adoption fees, a bed, a food and water bowl, a collar, a leash, a license, etc. Around Christmas, people are spending lots of money, so it may not be the best time to give a very expensive gift that comes with continuous payments.
Pets require time and space.
One may have a house or apartment, but is the space big enough for the animal being planned for? A trained outdoor cat may not require much indoor space, but a puppy most certainly will. Puppies and kittens need to be trained. Most will terrorize your house until they are trained, so those that work a lot should avoid getting young animals that need a lot of training. They will tear up furniture, relieve themselves wherever they please, and whine if they are locked up too long. Some dog breeds also need a lot of exercise, so daily walks are important. Feeling helpless or trapped, a good portion of people will give up puppies or kittens to the pound, or simply release them onto the streets. According to the ASPCA, approximately 2.5 million out of the 7.6 million companion animals who enter the shelters each year are euthanized.
Pets are family.
When contemplating getting a pet, examine why. If one’s answer is “Because I want a new furry family member to care for and love,” then a pet may be a good idea. However, if one’s thought process is “Because I don’t have time for my kids, so I’ll let them have a pet to keep them preoccupied,” or any reason besides the first answer, then it may be a better idea to think of a different Christmas present. Don’t contribute to the influx of abandoned pets that flood the shelters after Christmas time. Adopting a pet from a shelter may be a better solution than getting a new puppy or kitten from a breeder. It not only decreases the percentage of euthanizations, but also increases the pet’s value of life and an outlook for a better future.
Pets are hard.
What if one gets a pet for what they believe are all the right reasons, but simply cannot take care of it due to unforeseen circumstances? I’ve been there before. My family took on a beautiful little French bulldog puppy, Bijou, to be a companion to our other French bulldog, Bacon. We’ve always had dogs, and loved her just as much as family. Unfortunately, she was very difficult to train, and our first French bulldog was beginning to regress in his training due to his young age and her influence in the house. If one had a situation happen to them anything similar to this, it is okay. Proper rehoming can be a much better option for the pet to have a better quality of life, but that does not include the pound. When we realized Bijou would need to be rehomed in order to increase her, and our, qualities of life, we got to work online looking for a better family. We posted pictures and descriptions of her with a fair price on websites like Craigslist, but did not respond to any sketchy strange responses to her. We waited probably a month before an acceptable and established couple came along who wanted her. We decided to meet with them, let them meet her, and see their house before allowing them take her on. Good people want pets along with bad ones, so it is all about weeding through acceptable candidates. However, if one finds people who will love and cherish their animals, rehoming will be more rewarding and satisfying knowing they will have a better quality of life and not be euthanized at a shelter that couldn’t keep up with the abandoned.
PETA. “5 Reasons Never to Give a Puppy or Kitten as a Christmas Gift.” PETA, 19 Dec. 2014, www.peta.org/living/companion-animals/5-reasons-never-give-puppy-kitten-christmas-gift/.
“Pet Statistics.” ASPCA, Subaru, www.aspca.org/animal-homelessness/shelter-intake-and-surrender/pet-statistics.
SPCA. “Before You Adopt.” Sacramento SPCA, www.sspca.org/you-adopt.
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