N.J. pets in need: Dec. 24, 2018

Better Homes and Gardens (bhg.com) has some sound advice if you’ve ever felt the impulse to by a pet for the holidays.

“Adding a pet to the family is a long-term commitment. It’s a decision that needs input from everyone who would care for the animal. That’s why pets should not be given as holiday gifts.

The scene has been replayed so often in popular culture that it has come to symbolize the holidays as much as tinsel and candy canes: A shopper, with freshly wrapped packages bulging out of two different bags, casually walks by a pet store window as the snow falls gently around her. The puppies behind the glass, all floppy ears and paws, madly scramble over each other trying to capture the shopper’s attention. The temptation is too great. The shopper whisks into the store and impulsively purchases an animal for her beloved.

This season, many shoppers will buy a dog or cat to give to a friend or loved one. Their motivations can be as varied as the snowflake: Some will buy an animal on impulse, some because they’re caught up in the spirit of the season, and some just because the doggie looks so darn cute in the pet shop window.

None of them is the right reason to add a new pet to the family.

Adding a pet to the family is a serious, long-term commitment. It’s a decision that needs input from everyone who would be involved in caring for the animal. What type of animal would have a personality most compatible with a person or family? Who would be the primary caregiver of the pet? How much will it cost to feed and provide veterinary care? Who would look after the animal during trips? Could someone be allergic to the pet?

Instead of buying a puppy or kitten as a gift, consider waiting to adopt a pet after the holidays. You could give a loved one a “gift certificate” from a local shelter, or a snapshot of a shelter pet, or even a stuffed animal representing a shelter pet-all which can be used as “passports” to adopt an animal later. This not only promotes responsible adoption, but provides a little fun, too.

After the holidays, if your loved ones decide they are indeed willing and able to adopt a pet, you can bring them down to the local shelter where they can use their ‘passport’ to adopt their new friend.

The alternative to this scenario can be sadder than the Island of Misfit Toys.”

Greg Hatala may be reached at greghatalagalleries@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.

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