There are thousands of animals with just one Christmas wish — to find their forever home. There are likely an equal number of children who would love to have a new pet this holiday season.
But before rushing out to adopt a new furry friend, animal advocates encourage potential owners to first seriously consider the commitment that comes after the gift of a new pet is received.
“Giving pets as a gift should always be talked about as a family or discussed with the person you are getting it for,” said Rockdale Animal Care and Control Shelter manager Ciji Baker. “Pets are a 10-plus year commitment that should not be taken lightly. There are several other factors to consider such as family lifestyle, housing space, type of dog or cat, time available for that animal and are you financially able to provide proper care.”
The Rockdale shelter currently has only one cat, four kittens and three adult dogs available, but Baker said that number can change daily and the shelter can fill up fast. One local organization, Pound Puppies ’N Kittens, rescues dogs and cats from area shelters and currently has animals available for adoption.
PPNK founder Dr. Beth Perry said the organization’s priority is to help rescued animals find their forever homes, which means ensuring her rescues are matched with the right owner. A detailed adoption application describing the potential owner’s lifestyle, living arrangements, current pet ownership and other details is required before the adoption is considered.
Dr. Perry said Christmas is the time when more puppies and kittens are in demand and she hopes that people will consider adoption over buying from a puppy breeder.
“There are still four to five million pets euthanized annually because of overpopulation,” Dr. Perry said. “If everyone who got a new pet at Christmas adopted versus buying, think of all the lives that would be saved.”
“In addition to saving a life, adopting has many advantages,” Dr. Perry said. “Most puppies and kittens have had some health care. They usually receive vaccinations and are treated for parasites. Frequently these pets are already spayed and neutered. Usually the adoption fees are only covering the cost of medical care. There is no profit made by an individual. There are many beautiful pets waiting for new homes available for adoption through local rescue groups.”
A third local source for pet adoptions is Mutts & More, which has dogs and also cares for kittens with special needs, currently has no pets ready for adoption before Christmas. Director Lori Todd said she does not usually offer adoptions during the holidays unless she is familiar with the potential owners and is completely comfortable with the decision.
“A lot of times it is impulse and they want to give it back in six months with no time spent with the pets,” Todd said. As has happened in the past, Todd said owners have wanted to return the pet after they have time to consider the decision to adopt a pet, making them harder to adopt.
All three organization offer guidance and advice for pet adoptions and ownership, which all three vehemently agree should be a well thought-out and serious decision. Profiles of pets available through PPNK are available on their website, and the organization currently has cats for adoption at PetSmart.
“I recommend that people research the type of animal they are wanting so they understand the size, lifespan, health issues, temperament, etc.,” said Baker, shelter manager. “My staff is trained and more than happy to assist anyone who has questions concerning any animal that we have for adoption and we try to make sure that we place the right dog/cat in the right home.”