Congratulations! You’ve made the decision to adopt, not shop this holiday season and to save a life! While we are always anxious to get our shelter animals out and into a home as quickly as possible, we are very wary about adoptions around this time because many get “returned” like a discount sweater from a department store. Here are a few things to remember before adopting around the holidays…actually, any time!
We cannot begin to tell you the amount of stories we receive from people who give up a family pet to the shelter. We get everything from those who are super sad about it to those who get mad at us because we don’t have room to accept their “pet” that they no longer want. This ends up with dogs literally tied to our fence post at our front gate so that people don’t have to take responsibility for their actions and hear a “no room” from us all the way to crates of bunnies being found at the front of our property – food, bedding, toys, and all.
What to know about adopting
You may be telling yourself, “I’ll never be that person”, and we hope you aren’t! However, many adopters just don’t think about the true responsibility of a pet. We understand extenuating circumstances that can happen to the best of us. However, we also have stories of adopters moving from Texas to Alaska and moving their dogs with them without thinking twice. We also know couples who are pregnant and make sure their animals are used to the new baby and well adjusted (all while still fostering kittens, may we add!). We hear countless stories of people needing to downsize their homes or apartments, but they make sure the #1 thing they look for in their next rental is that pets are accepted.
So this holiday season, before you buy a Christmas dog or kitty for your kids or significant other, please consider the following. Be one of the good stats that keeps a pet out of the shelter once and for all!
1. Remember, pets aren’t just a “gift”
A dog or cat is not a new truck toy, set of golf clubs, or a sweater that can be easily given away or tossed aside once the shine becomes new. They are an integral part of your family now. A pet is a forever decision. Golf clubs can be set aside, ignored, or sold. A pet should not be (we say should not be instead of can’t because it still happens, unfortunately). Pets have medical bills and yearly vaccines, which can be quite expensive at times. Make sure you have emergency funds, pet insurance, or CareCredit lined up. The stress of finally getting used to a new home then returned to the shelter is unimaginable. Just don’t be this person!
2. The person being gifted the pet may not want them
This is our biggest caveat to giving pets as a birthday gift, holiday gift, or gift in general. The individual receiving the animal may not be as gung-ho and dedicated as you are when it comes to bringing a furry family member into the mix. We say “furry family member” because pets are just that, a FAMILY member! They are more than just a pet or entertainment for you. They are a new member of the family. While we heavily agree that humans and their needs come first in a household, pets are not to be cast aside out of annoyance. They are a living being with emotions, stressors, wants, and most of all, in need of love and time, which takes us to our next point.
3. Pets take time to adjust
Following up on the above statement, a new furry family member takes time to adjust. Wouldn’t you need time if you suddenly got thrust into a new home? It takes 21 days to make or break a habit, so we recommend even longer for new pets getting adjusted to a new home, humans, and other furry family members. Getting used to another cat or dog in the home is immediate for some pets, while it can take a month or longer for others. The key is to introduce slowly, especially when you are introducing 2 adult pets for the first time. We have many pointers and directions that we can give you when it comes to family introductions. Give it time! Give them patience! Give them love!
Is a new pet worth it then?
ABSOLUTELY!!! Pets are an endorphin releaser and can help minimize stress in a home. Coming home after a long day of work to a cat that wants to purr on your lap or a dog that is more excited than ever to see you is 110% worth it. Just like pets give their all to us, we should give our all to them. In essence, we would LOVE to set your family up with the perfect new addition to your home, but we just want all of our adopters to be aware of the time and financial impact a pet will make. We hope this doesn’t discourage you, but opens up your eyes to the wonder and love that a new pet in the home can bring.