Can’t think of the right gift for your spouse or loved ones? How about a cute puppy or kitten? It seems like the perfect present to have under the tree… But not so fast! The Georgia Department of Agriculture wants to remind everyone of the importance in carefully weighing any decision about purchasing or adopting a pet for Christmas.
Here are a few points to consider from Agriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black:
- Never give an animal to anyone unless that person wants it, expects it and is prepared to immediately care for it. People receiving the animal should bond with that animal beforehand. They should not be surprised by it or have it forced on them, even by someone with the best intentions.
- With the bustle of holiday festivities and duties, do you have the time to care and watch out for a new animal or to deal with housebreaking and litter box issues?
- Introducing an animal into new surroundings can be stressful. A home full of holiday guests and small children, each wanting to hold and feed the animal, only makes the stress worse.
- Chocolate, grapes, raisins and macadamia nuts are dangerous to dogs. A dog can choke on a turkey or chicken bone. Will you be able to make sure it doesn’t get into any of these or that a guest won’t feed them to the dog?
- Decorations may look like playthings to a dog or cat eager to explore its surroundings. Will you be upset if the cat climbs into the Christmas tree to hide or if the dog chews up an heirloom ornament?
- Veterinarians will be harder to reach during the holiday if there is an emergency.
- Will your children think an animal is like a toy that can be discarded when they grow tired of it?
- A pet is a long-term commitment of time and money. Do you want a living animal or do you just need a gift?
“Decisions about getting a pet should be carefully considered. The last thing animal shelters or rescue groups want to see is another orphaned animal. A dog or cat is not like a sweater you can return or stick in the back of the closet,” said Commissioner Black.
“Also, Christmas may not be the best time to introduce a new pet into the household. If you and your children sincerely want a dog or cat as a Christmas gift, consider giving a photo or drawing of one on Christmas morning and then visit a licensed rescue group, animal shelter or breeder and adopt or purchase or one in January.
“And, of course, always spay and neuter your cat or dog,” Black added.
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Editor’s Note: The Georgia Department of Agriculture regulates those who produce, sell, board, groom, offer for adoption or exchange pet animals, including birds. The Department inspects licensed establishments and investigates complaints of people and/or facilities required to be in compliance with the Animal Protection Act, the Bird Dealers Licensing Act, the Animal Protection Rules and Regulations, and the Bird Dealers Licensing Rules and Regulations.