A new puppy is a lifetime commitment, requiring a considerable amount of research and preparation. Springing a puppy on a child makes a wonderful holiday morning memory, but the reality is that animals need care and attention long after the seasonal decorations are put away. A new pet cannot be put aside as easily as other gifts, yet each year, a distressing number of pets given as gifts end up being dumped at shelters.
"Unlike with other holiday presents, owners cannot just pop in a fresh battery or put the pet away in the closet after the novelty wears off. In nearly all cases, one of the parents becomes the primary caretaker, doing the feeding, walks and all of the other chores the children once promised to do themselves," says Robin Tierney of the Partnership for Animal Welfare.
"Furthermore, 'pets as playthings' is the wrong message to send to children. Pets are living beings that require substantial time and daily care, plus expenses for food, obedience training, vet bills and occasional petsitters or kennels. Children get bored with gifts, and it's heartbreaking when families grow tired of the growing dog," Tierney explains.
It's not just children that may tire of the new responsibility of a puppy. Adults who did not see the gift of a pet coming may not be willing to put in the time and effort to care for it. "A new owner may enjoy the animal for a few weeks, but then resent the gift once the novelty wears off, and the cute puppy starts growing into an active, needy, larger dog," Tierney says.
In fact, many reputable breeders will not allow puppies to go to a new home during the holidays because of the failure rate of such adoptions. Reputable breeders want to see their puppies in safe, responsible homes; holidays are times of distractions and stress, and are not good times to help a new pet adjust to a new living situation and family.
As for adoptions, great shelters always want their cats and dogs to find forever homes, but adoption volunteers will ask the right questions to ensure your family is ready for a new pet, holidays or not. if your family is fully prepared, if everyone in the household has been planning for a new pet and all of the responsibilities have been laid out and agreed to, then and only then is adoption a good idea.
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