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Adopting a Shelter Pet for Christmas? Here Are a Few Things to Consider . . .

Are you imagining the surprise on your little ones' faces when they open the pantry door on Christmas morning and out bounds a puppy? How about Grandma's delight when she uncovers that carrier to find a cat nestled inside? Those are movie moments, but there are some serious implications to giving pets as gifts.

The Buddy Foundation, a no-kill shelter where I volunteer, has a strict policy that every member of the family has to be present before an animal can be adopted. According to Sue Hensley, Buddy Foundation cat coordinator, this is a common policy with many, if not all, no-kill shelters.

In addition, families with a dog, must bring their existing pet to meet the new puppy/dog they are considering adopting. Kittens under 5 months of age are not generally adopted to families with children under 5. And kittens, who are always so active, are not usually released to senior citizens. These rules may seem harsh. But according to Sue Hensley, the policies are in effect to keep the animals safe.

Picture this: Christmas Day. The kids tear through their presents leaving toys, wrapping paper, and bright curly ribbons strewn across the floor. Aunt Gertrude arrives with her annual giant poinsettia plant. Uncle Ted brings his traditional two-pound box of Fannie May chocolates. The front door opens and closes all day as guests come and go.

With so much going on, a new kitten/puppy could get injured, poisoned, or lost in all the holiday excitement.

Adopted animals need time to adapt to their new environment. They should be the focus of the family as the new addition gets used to the daily household routine.

Instead of a Christmas surprise, Sue Hensley offers a few safe suggestions. Consider a gift certificate or an IOU for a new pet. After the hubbub of Christmas has died down, take the family to your local shelter and decide together on your new addition. Make a donation to your favorite shelter in Grandma's name and let her decide when and if she's ready for the responsibility of a new pet.

Shelter pets are waiting for their new forever homes. This may sound hokey, but give the gift of puppy/kitty love this holiday season. Just give it, responsibly.

UPDATES

For those of you following the exploits of our English Bulldog, Spike, there's good news! He spent yesterday at doggie day care and didn't hump once. Not once. He ran around with his pack and played without stopping to hump a dog. Or the couch! The director told me that Spike must have learned his lesson. That he'd have more fun playing with the dogs than humping them. It took awhile and two different day care facilities, but hopefully, Spike is on the road to recovery from his humping addition. Way to go, boy! Dad and I are proud of you.

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