By Jessica Hall
Ruh ro! The holidays are here and you still don’t have a gift for the animal lover in your life? A pet would be a GREAT gift, right? WRONG! While man’s best friend can provide years of loyal companionship and fun, they’re a bad gift idea to the unsuspecting new owner.
Around the holidays, pet adoptions and sales go up. The weeks afterward see a spike in the number of pets dropped off at animal shelters. This is a result of gifting people with a pet, not realizing the recipient isn’t ready to own a pet.
Pet ownership is a commitment that can last anywhere from 10 to 15 years. So before giving a pet as a gift, make sure the person is a willing owner. Also consider giving a “pet certificate” instead of the actual pet or a basket of items that a new pet owner will need.
After the holidays, go with them to your local shelter to pick out the perfect pet. School may be out, but be sure to do your homework before you head out in search of a puppy or kitten. Adoption fees in South Florida range from $35 to $75 for cats and $85 to $135 for dogs. If you adopt from a local shelter, the adoption fee likely already includes spaying or neutering. Many organizations also offer reduced spaying and neutering services.
Remember, there are expenses that go with owning a pet! PetEducation.com estimates that the cost of owning a dog (using a 14-year-old dog as an example) could range anywhere from $4,000 to over $38,000, depending on personal scenarios.
If you want a particular breed, size, or age, consider the Humane Society of Greater Miami’s Match-A-Pet program. Just fill out an application and when the pet matching your search arrives they’ll give you call. Any dog adopted through the Match-A-Pet program has an adoption fee of $185. Or you could always look into rescue organizations, like the American Kennel Club – www.akc.org and alsowww.petfinder.com.
Tips for adopting a pet or giving one as a gift:
Don’t support puppy mills. Pet stores often get their dogs from puppy mills where they mass breed dogs, overlooking basic standards of care. They contribute to pet overpopulation, which leads to millions of dogs being euthanized each year
Do your research! Each breed has a specific temperament, personality and potential problems.
Adopt your dog over a long weekend when you’ll be home so you can bond with your pet, especially if you head off to school or work Monday morning!
Spay or neuter your pet. Don’t worry – it won’t change their personality or negatively impact their health.
Microchip your dog! If your dog escapes, it is your best chance of finding it.
Pets need help too!
Pick up some goodies for the dogs and cats that will spend their holiday at an animal shelter? Rubber toys make a great gift for dogs, and climbing trees or ping-pong balls will keep the cats entertained!
Make a donation to your local shelter or Humane Society.
And remember, during the holidays the shelters are always looking for volunteers. Maybe that’s you!
Still want to find a pet for the holidays? Check these websites:
www.bestfriends.org and www.hsus.org/pets/
For shelters in Miami-Dade, Broward or Palm Beach counties: