Rescuing a pet from an animal shelter is a terrific way to celebrate the coming holiday season’but if you are bringing it home as a gift for your family, wait until the festivities are over.
‘Holiday commotion makes it more difficult for a pet to settle in and bond with its new owners,’ says Dr. Julie de Moissac, a veterinarian in Outlook, Sask.
Also know that adopting a pet is a huge commitment, explains Desirée Arsenault, humane education coordinator at the Calgary Humane Society. You’ll want to consider how much time you will have to spend with a pet, and the best type for your lifestyle.
For example, an energetic dog may be more suitable for a family with kids; if no one will be home during the day, an independent cat might be better. ‘It’s not unlike looking for a mate,’ says de Moissac. (Check out the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies website for information about all kinds of pets, including birds and ferrets.)
You should also consider the cost of companionship, which can be steep. Neutering or spaying, ID tattoos or microchips and food dishes can total more than $300 for a dog and more than $250 for a cat. Plus there are initial vaccinations and purchase fees. Annual upkeep expenses can vary widely from hundreds to thousands of dollars, especially for unexpected medical needs. Consider pet insurance, says Arsenault.
Food, toys, a carrier, a cage and training are the next most important factors to consider, says Catherine Clayton, director at the Victoria Pet Adoption Society in B.C. ‘All pets need some training when they are new to the home.’
‘And giving an animal as a surprise gift to someone else or another family is never a good idea,’ says deMoissac. If you want to give a gift to someone who you know is planning to get a pet, consider a gift card from a pet shelter. It’s a great way to support their decision, and will still be a wonderful surprise.
This article was originally titled "Adopting a pet?" in the November/December 2009 issue of Best Health. Subscribe today to get the full Best Health experience’and never miss an issue!’and make sure to check out what’s new in the latest issue of Best Health.