The Gift of an Animal

The Gift of an Animal

As founder of  a  rescue organization and after viewing a Captain D’s commercial, I find it important to republish the article we sent to the Connection in 2014.  In the commercial the parents put a puppy in a box, gaily wrap it, and watch as their daughter excitedly opens it only to be tearfully told that she actually wanted a hush puppy.  Some people will find this cute but I would guess most rescues find in disturbing to watch, especially since the family rushes out the door to go to Captain D’s with the pup left in the box to fend for himself

I can’t help but wonder what destruction they found when they returned home.   DWW

Around the holidays people ask, “Do you have any puppies? I want one for my four-year old for Christmas. It’s a surprise!” Unfortunately, when rescue organizations hear this they become extra cautious.  While a puppy or kitten adorned with a red bow paints a warm and nostalgic picture, the truth is that it is really unfair to both the family and the animal.  A gifted cat or dog often becomes less appealing as the family realizes they were not prepared for the responsibility and, overwhelmed, they find it easier to relegate the animal to a crate in the corner, surrender it to an animal control facility, or toss it out on a country road.

Having a pet is a long-term financial and emotional commitment. It should be a decision between every member of your family. That is why rescue groups won’t release animals without a home visit attended by the entire family, including children and other pets. One should not assume the animal they picked as a surprise is the right one for the family, that a child will love it, or that other pets in the family will accept another animal.

Animals take time so schedules should be considered.  Like babies, you can’t leave a pup alone for 8 hours and expect it to housebreak and socialize itself. In many ways kittens are easier to care for but they have teeth and claws like needles, which often frighten children and young children can unintentionally injure a two pound kitten, sometimes fatally.

Financially, several sessions of preventative vetting are needed beginning at seven weeks. Without this a puppy or kitten is more vulnerable to contagious, life-threatening diseases which are more expensive to treat than to prevent. Health maintenance costs are significantly reduced after the first year unless something catastrophic happens but the cost of animal care should be included in the family budget.

SUGGESTIONS:      Google the cost of twelve to eighteen years of caring for an animal. You can find sites which will include estimates for major and minor expenses.

Think about your lifestyle. Can your family dedicate the time to exercise, socialize, and train an animal? Does your family like pet-friendly activities?

If you do decide to give the gift of an animal, start with a stuffed one. Include a note stating that the adventure of finding a family pet is beginning and allow everyone to have a say in finding the perfect dog or cat for your family..

Keep in mind that You become responsible forever for what you have tamed.”                Antoine de Saint-Exupery


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