BARK! The Herald Canines Sing!Dec 01, 2022
It's a heartwarming scene right out of a Hallmark Christmas movie. A box is opened, and a cute puppy or kitten raises its head to peer over the edge. We hear a squeal of delight from a child, a grandparent, or a girlfriend as they grab their furry Christmas gift. The music swells as there are hugs, egg nog, and carols all around.
Giving the gift of a pet for Christmas can be one of the most beautiful moments in life. Samantha Phillips says the staff at the Moore Animal Shelter believes pets make lovely Christmas gifts, but only after everyone has thoughtfully considered all aspects of bringing a living creature into a household.
"We especially love for people to adopt from our shelter because we have so many great pets just waiting for their forever homes," said Phillips. "But you don't want to surprise somebody with a dog, cat, puppy, or kitten. Adopting a pet should be something you're prepared for, and everybody in the household is prepared for."
Phillips says that once everyone is on board, adding a pet to the family at Christmas is a life-changing experience for the family and the pet. Here are some essential questions to answer if you're considering adopting a pet this holiday season:
- Is anyone in the recipient's household allergic to dogs?
- Are there small children in the house, and is this dog good with children?
- Can they afford to pay for dog food, veterinary bills (x-rays, spay/neutering, flea medication, blood tests), leashes, collars, and toys?
- Are they able to walk the dog several times a day or pay for a dog walker?
- Do they have time and patience to transition the animal into the home after the adoption?
- Do they have the time and patience to housetrain a puppy or dog? Are they ready and willing to clean up indoor accidents?
- Are they willing to train a dog out of negative behaviors like jumping and barking?
- If the dog has fur, are they willing and able to clean up dog hair?
- Can they lift or carry the dog to a bath or transport it to a groomer?
If the answer to those questions is "yes," it's time to get serious about choosing a pet. While many families lean toward purebred breeds, Phillips says there are some great reasons to come by the Moore Animal Shelter and look at the loving animals they have waiting for adoption.
"Right now, we have a lot ready to go home," said Phillips. "Each year, we see the joy that lights up faces when individuals or families take home one of our animals. Honestly, that's why we work so hard here and do what we do in hopes of finding a place filled with love for the four-legged friends."
If you're going to bring a pet into your home this holiday season, Phillips recommends getting started early. While the adoption process usually only takes a few days, it's crucial to stay ahead of the busiest part of the year.
"Usually, if you come in and pick out a pet, we still have to do some vetting stuff," said Phillips. "That means we typically send our pets out the next business day to get all of that done, and then they're ready to go home. So, come in at least the week before Christmas to see what animals are available and get the paperwork started."
The adoption process is straightforward, said Phillips. The cost of adoption is typically $70. The Moore Animal Shelter will sometimes offer a $35 half-price adoption. After the pet is vetted, the owner will receive a folder with all their medical records. That includes information on spaying, neutering, microchips, and deworming. Phillips also suggests getting established with a veterinarian within a month of adoption.
"Their shots and all are going to be good for a year," said Phillips. "But connecting with your vet will help continue with heartworm prevention, flea and tick prevention, and those kinds of things."
Phillips again wants folks to know that there will be a time of adjustment for this new family unit. She recommends planning for those first weeks and months when both humans and furry friends are adjusting to their new relationships and environment:
- Make sure that your holiday plans include plenty of time at home. You want ample time to get to know your pet and provide the necessary behavioral training.
- Try to minimize foot traffic in and out of your home. The hustle and bustle of friends and family might be overwhelming for a new pet. Keep the animal's surroundings as calm and peaceful as possible.
- Instead of surprising a family member with a pet, you can give them a card saying you're getting a new dog or cat. When you go to the shelter, all family members can visit with each pet and vote on which animal they think is best. This way, the whole family can look for a new animal together.
"It's also a great idea to get a crate so their pet can have a safe spot," said Phillips. "These are the kinds of things that help with the adjustment. It's hard for us, so we want to get them home, and that's why we push it so much for the holidays. But we also want to do it the right way and make sure it's the right fit, that it's going to stick, and that the dog's not going to have to just come right back to us after the holidays."
The most important thing, Phillips reiterates, is that while plenty of Christmas gifts make beautiful surprises, pets should NEVER be a surprise.