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.
“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.”
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.
“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.
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.
“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.