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As Valentines Day is upon us, many feel the excitement of giving and receiving presents by your loved ones. What would be cuter than a puppy or kitten with a bright red bow? Imagine the look on your loved one’s face? While it is a thoughtful gift, there can be a downside to gifting pets. I worked in a shelter environment and now run a rescue and there is always a spike in owner-surrendered pets before and after holidays. While disturbing, many people will surrender their old pets before the holiday to make way for new pets and afterwards, many well-meant “gifts” are returned.

To help prevent these returns to the shelter or rescue, here are some tips to think about before you gift that pet.

Do you know for a fact that the person wants a pet? If they rent, does the property owner approve ? Have they talked at length about wanting a dog or a cat or is it something that you think would enrich their life? Pets do bring joy but not everyone has time for a pet. They may lead busy lives and not be home to take care of them. They may have allergies, or they may not have the finances to take care of them. The main point to remember is that pets need to be a good fit to the person and for the best interest of the animal, the person needs to be the best fit for the animal. An elderly person taking care of a rambunctious, large breed puppy or young children with a fragile pet may not be the best fit. Huskies right now are the big fad due to Game of Thrones. This particular breed is not fit for a household that is not active and doesn’t exercise the animal. Remember a tired dog is a behaved dog and ignoring that will result in a super hyper untrained dog who will be rehomed or surrendered to a rescue or shelter where we then have to work on those issues. 

Are you giving the pet to your children? Is the pet so they can learn to care for their own animal? In the animal rescue world, one of the common answers we get when someone is surrendering an animal is “my children won’t care for the pet” or “they lost interest” . Children can learn to care for their pet, but kids are kids. They forget sometimes to clean and feed. Giving a pet and expecting the child to care for the pet exclusively and when they forget to do that, giving the pet up to the shelter is traumatic for the child and the pet alike. Give the pet as a gift to the whole family. Expect that you will care for the pet too and teach your children proper care as well. Please make sure everyone is open an aware of the responsibilities of having a pet.

A pet can cost a lot of money. Crates, toys, food bowls, leashes, beds, cages, training litterboxes and lets not mention the big one medical care.  The list goes on. Does the person you are giving the pet to have the money to care for their new pet? Do they have any supplies for the pet? These are some questions to ask yourself before getting a pet for Valentines or any other holiday for that matter. Has the pet been to the vet for a wellness exam or vaccinations? That is why adopting is always the number 1 choice because the animals come fully vetted. 

Working in the animal rescue world is not easy. We take in surrendered animals in our care and do everything we possibly can to make sure this animal will be in 1 last home for life and it’s the adopter we choose.  We meet with potential adopters, do home vists as if its like a job interview. We are responsible for this animal’s future so we need to be extremely through and make sure this is what’s best for the animal. My 1 wish this Valentines to Cupid is that we take the animals best interest in mind when getting an animal because it’s that unconditional love that we yearn for in life isn’t it? 

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