Remember that neat gadget gift you got last year from your friend? I’ll bet by now it has lost it appeal and is either collecting dust on a shelf or has been re-gifted.
Imagine if that “gadget” were living, breathing and had four legs and a tail? Now what?
Animals given as presents often end up unwanted and discarded, like that ugly green-and-white Christmas sweater. Trust me; I see it all too often. It is hard to resist that puppy or kitten in the window, but giving the gift of pet ownership and the responsibility that goes along with it is something that I would ask you to not only think about once, but twice.
Growing a family by adding a pet is a decision that needs to be made by all the family members. It should not be an impulse buy. The recipient can’t put a pet up on a shelf in the back of the closet when they are done with it. There are 15-plus years of care, love and security to provide, not to mention the thousands of dollars this gift will cost over a lifetime. Shouldn’t the recipient have a say in whether or not that is something he or she can commit to?
If your children really want a dog or a cat for Christmas, schedule a family outing to a shelter after the holiday when things aren’t so chaotic and stressful. Assume that the parent will be the primary caregiver if the children are under the age of 13. Iron out all responsibilities beforehand.
If you are looking for a great alternative, consider giving a gift certificate from a local shelter that covers the cost of an adoption. Let the recipient decide on what pet is best suited for his/her lifestyle. Adoption counselors can assist in the process, and that way a good and permanent match can be made. Or consider making a donation as a gift or support a virtual adoption.
We have a lot of animals in our shelter that I would love to see go home for the holidays. But as a rule, we do not adopt unless all family members are present. We take the gift of life very seriously. It saddens me to see on occasion the life of an animal considered disposable. Our shelter is filled with throw-aways. But I have faith that the spirit of the holidays will bring homes to our homeless when the time is right.
Please consider donating your time, money or needed supplies to the several desperate shelters and rescue groups in this great city of ours. The joy of receiving is in the giving.
Dr. Robin Brennen is vice president of program operations and chief of veterinary services at Bideawee, 410 E. 38th St.
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