NOREEN: Pets as gifts? Think it through

BARRY NOREEN Updated: November 20, 2012 at 12:00 am • Published: November 20, 2012

Last January, 46 dogs and cats that had been adopted in the weeks leading up to Christmas were returned to the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region.

It’s not known for sure whether they were adopted as intended Christmas gifts, but based on animal shelters’ experience, it safe to surmise that many were. Because not many people adopt a pet in January, those 46 animals’ fate was quite uncertain once they found themselves back at the shelter.

Is adopting an animal from the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region a good way to get a pet? Absolutely, because you get a healthy pet that is licensed and not expensive — most dogs are $130 and most cats are $68.

But you should think carefully before giving a pet to someone as a gift.

“We try to find out why they’re getting the animal,” said Gretchen Pressley, spokeswoman for the Humane Society. “We do ask if that pet is for someone else. To surprise them with a pet, I don’t think you should.”

Sometimes returning a pet to the Humane Society is unavoidable.

“I would hope that if it is a return it’s because the dog didn’t get along with a dog that was already in the home,” Pressley said.

Most of the reasons adopted pets are returned to the shelter are things that could have been foreseen: The recipient of the pet isn’t that enthusiastic about caring for it, or doesn’t have the yard a big dog would need, for instance. Also, some animals are high-maintenance.

“A puppy or a kitten might not be a good idea for an older person,” Pressley said.

Dogs need people more than cats do, so it doesn’t make sense to give someone a dog if that person isn’t at home much.

Puppies must be house-broken and that’s a little tougher during winter. In fact, virtually every aspect of bringing a new pet into the home is easier when the weather is better. That’s why the biggest adoption months at the shelter are April through September.

Pressley pointed out that the Humane Society has alternatives to adopting a pet as a gift. You can buy a gift card for someone so they can go to the shelter and pick out their own pet. Another way to give is to make a donation to the shelter in the name of someone.

As of Tuesday, the shelter had 25 dogs and 64 cats ready for adoption. There are some nice animals there, ready to begin a long-term relationship with someone.

Pressley said a good way to think of a new pet is as “a permanent family member.”

Indeed, that’s what our pets become.

So visit the Humane Society. Just be sure you’re adopting for the right reasons and won’t be returning the pet in January — the coldest month of the year.

Listen to Barry Noreen on KRDO NewsRadio 105.5 FM and 1240 AM at 6:35 a.m. on Fridays and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. Contact him at 719-636-0363 or barry.noreen@gazette.com

 

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