Every holiday season, we hear heartwarming stories about pets being given as gifts to children and spouses in our communities. We are also guaranteed to see at least one commercial depicting a happy child whose holiday wish has come true, as a puppy with a bow tied to its collar comes bounding out from under the tree. These joyous scenes of holiday pet adoption can be a prelude to many happy years of a pet being part of the family, especially if some careful thought and research is put into the effort.
3 Things to Consider for Successful Gift Adoption
Before you decide to surprise your family or friend with a new cat or dog for the holidays, consider the following tips to ensure a successful match. No matter what time of year you adopt, it’s important to plan ahead, but it’s especially critical during the holidays. Finding the right pet within the short window of the holiday season can be a challenge.
- Do your research.
Research shelters and rescue organizations in your area offering special programs during the holiday season that include ongoing counseling. Adoption counselors will work with you to determine if they have a cat or dog that will fit the recipient’s lifestyle.
- Be open minded.
Don’t set your mind on one specific breed of dog or cat. The most important factors to consider are behavior, routine and ongoing cost of care, including preventative medicine and grooming. Some pets come housetrained ready, while others will need lots of positive reinforcement training when it comes to house manners. Will the family’s or individual’s lifestyle permit time for training? How much exercise will the new pet require? Will he/she be good with children and other pets in the family? If the recipient’s lifestyle or free time is limited, consider an adult cat or dog that is already housetrained.
- Consider a gift card.
Some shelters and rescues will offer the purchase of gift certificates for a future adoption. If you don’t find the right pet for the special occasion, you can purchase pet-related toys, care manuals, leashes/collars, or carriers to place in a gift basket presentation along with a gift certificate. This allows the family or individual to be a part of the decision process. And learning about pet homelessness and the need for adoption helps teach children compassion.
Potential Challenges with Holiday Pet Adoptions
A holiday pet adoption is a wonderful way to show someone you care while providing a homeless pet a loving, long-term home. Keeping the following considerations in mind can help prevent recipients from returning a pet to the shelter.
- Can you and/or the recipient afford this pet?
Depending on the age of the adopted pet, consider the cost of supporting a new furry family member for 15 years. That is a decade and a half of paying for food, toys, regular vet visits and unexpected emergency medical care (which can cost thousands of dollars per visit).
- Does the recipient have the time to properly care for your pet?
Animals aren’t people, but they need all the things that people do to stay healthy, including exercise and attention. Does the recipient’s lifestyle provide time during the day to train a puppy or walk a dog? If not, consider paying a responsible dog sitter to provide daily walks, or enroll the dog in a doggie daycare program.
- Could the recipient be allergic to the animal?
An unexpected outcome of holiday pet adoption may be that one or more of the pet’s owners is allergic to their new pet. After all, if the gift is a surprise, the recipient will not have spent any time with the animal. To avoid returning a pet to the shelter, make sure you know if the recipient has any allergies that may be of concern with owning a pet.
- Pets need time to adjust.
When a new pet is adopted, everything is new for them too! It is important to give the new family member time to adjust and to understand that unwelcome behavior often goes away as the pet feels more comfortable in their new home with the help of consistent positive reinforcement.
In the past, there were concerns that giving pets as holiday gifts was often impulsive and that the animals would end up in animal shelters when the holiday thrill was gone. However, results of research studies conducted in the last 10 years on the retention of pets adopted as gifts support the conclusion that there is no increased risk of relinquishment for dogs and cats received as a gift. And with COVID-19, shelters and rescues need to find homes for their pets now more than ever, either for temporary foster care or adoption.
If you are looking to add a pet to your family this holiday season, do your homework, make your selection and have a wonderful time with your new companion!
Help Florida Animal Friend Fend Off Animal Homelessness
Understanding the benefit of adopting a homeless pet and thinking about it carefully is one great way to support the work we do here at Florida Animal Friend. Looking for more ways to help? Purchase one of our Florida specialty license plates or donate today to help us reduce animal overpopulation across Florida! Our mission is to help save the lives of countless homeless cats and dogs by supporting organizations that offer free or low-cost spay and neuter services throughout the state.