Thinking of gifting a pet this holiday season? Colorado Springs shelters offer some suggestions

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COLORADO SPRINGS — As the holidays approach, animal shelters are becoming increasingly busy with people looking to adopt a pet. But while getting a pet for can be a fun experience, shelters urge caution.

The holidays can be the busiest time of the year as more people consider adding a pet to the family.

“Kids are off school, parents are on time off work, it’s good to bring one of our pets home and give them a home for the holidays as well,” said Cody Costra, Public Relations and Content Specialist for the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region. “We do not recommend taking home a pet as a gift when it’s a surprise for somebody.”

Most shelters agree surprising a child with a pet for Christmas can be disastrous if not well thought out.

Oftentimes, shelters see families come in with children who are neither prepared nor ready for the commitment. When that happens, it becomes more likely that the animal will be incompatible with the family.

Although many shelters report seeing less of these sad situations, it still occurs every year. For families who are serious about adopting a pet, there are ways to make sure your new addition will fit in with the family before bringing it home.

Instead of surprising a kid with a live animal Christmas morning, shelters recommended families ease children into the idea slowly.

“You can get a gift certificate and maybe buy the supplies and wrap those things up so when the kids open their presents and they find a kitten collar or a litter box or something like that, they’ll know what’s up and they’ll get really excited about that.”

However, like many animal shelter employees and volunteers, Gina Rocha says getting a pet as a gift is not the ideal Christmas present, no matter the situation.

“Dogs are not the best presents to do to give gifts at all. They take a whole bunch of responsibility. They are practically kids in their own embodiment,” Rocha said.

Shelters said dogs require more planning and preparation and recommend to not give as a gift at all for Christmas. Credit: Rachel Saurer

Rocha recommends that families foster first, if they have taken everything else into consideration, and still want to adopt. This way, families can get a sense of what owning a dog will be like.

“By fostering you learn, ‘Hey, we like this temperament, we like this breed, we like the sense of raising a dog from a puppy or we like having older dogs,'” Rocha said.

Another option, if families are still on the fence about adopting, is volunteering at a shelter.

All shelters are looking for volunteers, which is another great way to know if you’re ready to adopt.

“We actually have kids that volunteer with their parents so they get a taste of ‘are we ready for this?'” Happy Cats Haven Andrea Jones Adoption Manager explained. “So, if it’s not for you, you can just stop volunteering.”

It is important to note that shelters do not want to discourage anyone from adopting. However, by taking the proper steps, getting an animal during the holidays is a gift that will keep giving for many years to come.

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