Pets as presents: A good idea?
Americans have a long tradition of giving pets, usually puppies or kittens, as gifts for special occasions especially during the holidays.
The ASPCA recommends that pets be obtained from animal shelters, rescue organizations, friends, family or responsible breeders—not from places where the source of the animal is unknown or untrusted.
Our local shelters are filled with dogs and cats looking for their forever homes and a second chance on life outside animal control.
Pet ownership is a huge responsibility, and a long-term commitment. While it is all fun and games in the beginning, eventually the novelty wears off and someone is ultimately responsible for that pet, their well-being and their happiness.
When a child requests a pet for Christmas, parents should not enter that decision lightly. Most likely that child is not going to be the one taking care of that pet.
“With Christmas around the corner we see a lot of parents getting puppies for their child. Make sure that you and your child are understanding of the amount responsibilities that come with being a pet owner. I think having a pet helps develop that since of responsibility at a young age,” said BPSO Animal Control Officer Deputy Krista West.
Animals cannot and should not be returned. It is very traumatizing for a dog to bounce around from house to house and shelter to shelter, as you can imagine.
Beauregard Parish Sheriff’s Office Animal Control Officer Deputy Krista West also has some tips for keeping pets safe during the colder weather, “Most places don’t allow pets inside, but making sure your pets are warm while in the elements is part of being a good pet owner. Making sure they have adequate shelter to block wind and rain is important. Adding a heat lamp as well as hay and a blanket is added comfort for your pup. Feeding them extra and making sure they have fresh water available.”
Here are some helpful tips before adding a pet to your family this holiday season:
- How old are your kids? Different pets are appropriate for different ages.
- Do your kids really want a pet? “Children like animals, but not all children really want to have them around the house.
- Have you thought about the cost?
- Are you committed? Pets are not something that you can take home, try out and return if they don’t suit you. You’re taking on a commitment to care for that animal for the rest of its life.
- Are you educated about what caring for an animal entails? Don’t forget that an animal’s an animal.
- Don’t get a pet to teach your child responsibility. Planning the Surprise
Use the following guidelines when choosing pets for your children, as provided by the ASPCA:
Under 3 – Focus on introducing Baby to your current pets. It’s not appropriate to bring in a new pet at this point.
3 to 5 – Guinea pigs are a good choice, as they like to be held, seldom bite and will whistle when excited or happy. Your child can help fill the water bottle or food dish.
5 to 10 – Choose shelf pets like mice, rats or fish. Kids can help clean cages with adult help, though you should always check to ensure that pets have food and water and cages are secured.
10 to 13 – Your child is now ready for the responsibility of a dog, cat or rabbit. Your child can help feed the pet, walk the dog, clean the rabbit cage and clean the cat litter, but you should always check to be sure pets have everything they need. Participation in dog training classes is an excellent learning opportunity for children.
14 to 17 – Your child may have more activities competing for his time and less time to spend with a pet. Birds or aquariums are a good choice. Remember, you will have the pet once they leave to go to college.