At Christmas time, Santas everywhere begin making their lists and checking them twice. Those who are pondering presenting others with puppies, kittens, and other cuddly, live Christmas "gifts" should think twice, too. Animals are not toys-they are sensitive individuals who need proper care, attention, and love.
No doubt the companionship of an animal can be wonderful, but animals who are casually acquired are often discarded when the novelty of having a new "pet" wears off. Animal shelters are filled to capacity with cats and dogs no one wants, many of whom are former companions who were simply abandoned or passed from home to home before finally ending up in a cage.
A companion animal is an enormous responsibility and carries long-term obligations. Few people would ever consider presenting a friend with a newborn human infant, and the notion of giving a puppy or kitten should be met with that same skepticism. New puppy parents must have loads of time and patience for exercise and housebreaking, and cash to pay for food, toys, and veterinary care (including spaying or neutering, inoculations, and emergency care). Unlike an unwanted sweater, an unwanted animal can't be tossed into the closet to be forgotten.
Thinking of giving a kitten or puppy to a kid? Think again! Children have fleeting attention spans, their interest in walking the puppy and scooping the litterbox quickly wanes, meaning that those duties will be quickly added to their already overworked parents' "to-do" lists.
Puppies and kittens require vast amounts of time, patience, and money, all of which are scant during the holiday season. Ball State University psychologist Dan Lapsley agrees that the holidays are no time to bring home a new puppy or kitten who can too easily "... be lost in all that hoopla." Instead, give the animal lover on your gift list nature videos, books on animal behavior or care, or a subscription to an animal magazine.
The decision to get a puppy or kitten should be made by all the family members who will be living with the new addition. Should they decide that they have the time, money, commitment, and genuine desire to care for a puppy or kitten, it's best to wait until the tinsel and lights are taken down, then rescue one from an animal shelter. A faithful friend is anxiously waiting for a loving, post-holiday-hustle home.