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Weve all seen the adorable videos of children opening up packages filled with puppies, kittens, or other cute and cuddly animals during the holiday season. What seems like a good idea on Christmas morning becomes an animal you have to train, clean up after, and take care of.
Animal shelters regularly experience increases in abandoned pets during the weeks following the holidays. Reasons for leaving a pet are abundant, sometimes after discovering a member of the family is allergic to a new puppy, or learning that the animal does not work in the family schedule and dynamic.
Before you bring a new pet into your home during the holidays, consider the following factors, and make a decision that is appropriate for your family.
New animals need consistency
To successfully train a new animal and bring it into your home smoothly, time is needed to establish routine and consistency. If you have time off during the holidays, it may seem like the perfect time to train a new puppy, but the buzz and activity of the season may create more challenges in training than you expect. Holiday activities and large family gatherings may create stress on the animal during this important transition period.
You are making a lifetime commitment
Before adding a dog or cat into your household, remember that your first priority should be to provide a home for that animal through its entire life.
If you are unaware if members of the family have allergies, or are concerned that your children will not take on the full responsibility of a pet, make sure to take those items into consideration before picking up the pet. Be prepared to step in and help with training and care of the animal if you discover the kids are unable to do so.
Pets lose their novelty
During the first few weeks, a new puppy or kitten is exciting. Once the novelty wears off and they begin to tear up furniture and make messes, the pet may not be as cute anymore.
When was the last time your children received a toy only to abandon it a few weeks later? When the toy is a living animal, the neglect will result in behavioral issues that need to be dealt with later.
Not enough research
Every breed of animal has its own needs and traits. Researching before inviting an animal into your home can help ensure that you make a decision that fits into your lifestyle. Dogs with high herding desires may always chase small children, just like cats with high prey drives may be overly interested in pocket pets like hamsters or gerbils.
If you are prepared to address these situations through research, youll have a smoother transition that the entire family will appreciate.
Supporting puppy mills
Not all pets come from puppy mills, but the option to purchase a pet directly from a store is an easy option for those looking for quick gifts. Purchasing a pet that was born in a mill is endorsing the industry as a whole.
If looking for a new pet, seek out rescues who specialize in young animals or reputable breeders with a background in ensuring their pets have good homes.
Treating animals as a commodity
When a pet is purchased and given as a gift the message is sent that an animal is a material object that can be bought and sold. This makes it that much easier to abandon when it is no longer cute, interesting, or useful.
Seeking out an animal to adopt as a family demonstrates that the pet is an active participant in the family unit who should be cared for and valued.
If you want to add a furry member to the family, consider giving an adoption kit instead of a live animal. Wrap a box filled with a collar, pet bed, and food with a gift certificate to your local shelter.
After the holiday buzz has calmed down, visit the shelter as a family and bring home one of the many animals that find themselves there after the season is through.
Source: American Humane Society
Photo Credit: Pexels