Archive for Wednesday, December 19, 2001

Pets not always good gifts

December 19, 2001

Each Christmas season brings about a new novelty that ends up being the popular present for the year.

But there is one gift that seems to make its way under the Christmas tree year after year.

Animals, especially cats and dogs, are favorite gift ideas for many people each holiday season, Amy Tramill, Lawrence Humane Society Educator, said.

"We do see a lot of people coming through in December getting pets as gifts," Tramill said. "What's cuter than a kitten or a puppy on Christmas morning?"

But just because they make cute presents, doesn't mean they make the best presents, she said.

"I don't think it's a very wise idea to give them as gifts," she said.

"One reason pets as gifts is a bad idea, is everyone is going to pick different animals," she said. "How do you know which dog they are going to want or which kitten they are going to choose? Everyone's taste is different."

Tramill said pets have different personalities, just like people, so it's important to do some research to make sure the pet fits the person or family it's going to.

She said when pets are given as presents, the research doesn't happen often.

"A lot of shelters get those animals back in January," she said.

Another reason pets don't make great gifts, she said, is because people are not often ready for the commitment they take.

"Dogs live 10 to 15 years and cats can live up to 20 years. It's a big commitment," she said. "Just keep in mind, what might be a great idea for you might not be for them."

But if people are set on giving pets as Christmas presents, Tramill said she recommends gift certificates.

"You can always pre-pay the adoption fee," she said. "I think that's a great way to give a pet as a present."

By pre-paying, she said people that are receiving the pets are able to pick out the ones they want.

Tramill said waiting to get a pet for about a month would be a good idea.

"Christmas is not always the best time to be getting a pet," she said. "You might want to wait until the beginning of the year to go choose your pet."

The excitement of the holiday and people coming and going adds stress to the new animals, she said.

"You have to be really careful when you're bringing a new puppy or cat into that environment," Tramill said. "Most of them are going from a home to the shelter to a new home and they're trying to adjust. It can be very stressful for them."

There are some things that need to be kept in mind when choosing a pet, she said.

"Don't choose them just based on looks because you're not going to be happy in the long run," she said. "When you go to choose a dog or cat for you, try to think what your family is like."

It's better if children aren't the ones that choose the pets, she said, because they usually choose just based on looks.

"It really should be the adults decision. I never recommend the child chooses," she said. "Once children already know the decision has been made, they're really happy."

Tramill said pets can work as Christmas gifts for some people, but not for everybody.

"It all depends on the circumstances," she said.

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