Think twice about giv­ing a pet as a gift this Christ­mas

The Woolwich Observer - - NEWS - VERON­ICA REINER

CUTE, CUD­DLY AND WITH a built-in “ahhh” fac­tor, pets may seem like an ideal Christ­mas gift idea, but you might be bark­ing up the wrong tree.

Mar­jorie Brown, de­vel­op­ment direc­tor of the Kitch­ener-Water­loo Hu­mane So­ci­ety, cau­tioned against pur­chas­ing a pet as a Christ­mas gift due to the enor­mous com­mit­ment and re­spon­si­bil­ity that comes with be­ing a petowner.

“We frown on that,” said Brown of such gifts. “When peo­ple come in and walk through and want to look at the adopt­able pets, our adop­tion coun­cil­lors have been trained to ques­tion where the pet is go­ing.”

Shel­ters glob­ally some­times see an in­flux of an­i­mals shortly af­ter the hol­i­days, the re­sult of what seemed like a good idea go­ing bad, with the new pets not be­ing a good fit for any num­ber of rea­sons.

When pur­chas­ing a pet, it is cru­cial to make sure that ev­ery­one is on the same page. Pets are a huge re­spon­si­bil­ity and a longterm com­mit­ment, notes Brown.

“If you’re tak­ing a pet home to your fam­ily, we ask you to bring in your fam­ily,” she said. “Par­tic­u­larly if it’s a dog – we don’t want any chil­dren in the home be­ing ner­vous around a new dog. Also, we want to watch out for any al­ler­gies.”

Mul­ti­ple home changes in this short pe­riod of time can also add un­nec­es­sary stress to these an­i­mals.

“When we send a pet home,” said Brown. “We don’t like to see them come back. Be­cause it stresses a pet out more so than not.”

Pets re­quire ex­tra ac­ces­sories to be cared for ad­e­quately such as food, wa­ter bowls, and groom­ing sup­plies. They also have many needs such as ex­er­cise, ve­teri­nary care and train­ing.

For those set on giv­ing a pet-re­lated present, al­ter­na­tive ideas in­clude a

stuffed an­i­mal or a rel­e­vant gift card.

“We ac­tu­ally have gift cer­tifi­cates,” said Brown. “So if you want to give a pet for Christ­mas, we en­cour­age you to give a gift cer­tifi­cate in­stead. And then the per­son can come in af­ter Christ­mas and choose his or her own pet – might make a bet­ter match.”

The K-W Hu­mane So­ci­ety tends to see more traf­fic through­out the hol­i­day sea­son in gen­eral, par­tic­u­larly when the weather gets worse.

“It does tend to get busier here,” said Brown. “Not so much this year, be­cause we haven’t had those hor­ren­dous snow­falls yet. But once the snow starts fly­ing, we do tend to get a lot of strays brought in. Peo­ple don’t like to see the pets liv­ing on the street in the win­ter­time.”

Out of all of the pets brought in around this time, Brown noted that stray cats are one the group sees in par­tic­u­lar.

“There’s many what we call ‘com­mu­nity cats’ folks see at their back door,” said Brown. “They’re so­cial enough that when the snow does fly when it does get too cold, the folks who have been feed­ing them bring them in and we adopt them out.”

The K-W Hu­mane So­ci­ety and its Strat­ford Perth coun­ter­part are sell­ing choco­lates this Christ­mas as a fundraiser for the an­i­mals in their care. The stock­ing stuffers are avail­able di­rectly from the or­ga­ni­za­tions them­selves.

[VERON­ICA REINER / THE OB­SERVER]

Don’t let the puppy dog eyes fool you – pets like Louie and Win­ston should be well-thought out pur­chases, not last-minute Christ­mas gifts.

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