Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Pets for Christmas Not a Good Idea

Returning home to find a new pet sick or in need of medical care is not the Christmas memory you’ll want to carry through the years. That is one of the things Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin wants Georgians to think about before purchasing or adopting a pet for Christmas.

Here are a few points to consider from Commissioner Irvin:

• 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 of intentions.

• With the bustle of holiday festivities and duties, do you have the time to effectively care and watch out for a new animal or to deal with housebreaking and litter box issues?

• Introducing a new 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 new 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 companion or do you just need a gift?

“The main thing I want Georgians to remember is that decisions about getting a pet should be carefully considered. The last thing animal shelters want to see is another orphaned animal. A dog or cat is not like a sweater that you can return or stick in the back of the closet,” said Commissioner Irvin.

“The second thing is that 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 an animal shelter and adopt one in January.

“And, of course, always spay and neuter your cat or dog,” Irvin added.

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