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Pets as Gifts, and Tornado Pets

Christmas cat with bow - jessicafm (Jessica Merz).jpg
jessicafm (Jessica Merz) [Flickr]
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This cat doesn't look too happy to be a gift!

‘Tis the season folks might adopt a pet to give as a Christmas gift – but - a pet should never be a surprise gift.  A pet should be adopted for life, not just for Christmas.  What makes any pet special is the bond that develops between human and animal.  And when you give a pet as a gift, you are also giving responsibility – for time, attention, food, veterinary care – and a commitment for perhaps ten years or more.  So it needs to be the right pet, at the right time, for the right reason.

     Some animal shelters encourage folks to foster a pet for the holidays.  The animal has an opportunity to get out of the shelter and into a home environment.  It gives a potential pet owner an opportunity to “test drive” a pet, to see how having a furry friend fits into their schedule and lifestyle.  If the person fostering the animal decides to adopt it, then great – the pet has a new home.  If not, then the pet returns to the shelter with a new attitude, and may be more adoptable.

     Some shelters are dealing with problems more pressing than homeless animals.  After tornadoes hit Kentucky and five other states a week ago, animal welfare groups immediately went to work clearing out shelters near affected areas, moving dogs and cats to shelters in other (unaffected) states.  The ASPCA mobilized their disaster response teams to help evacuate animals, including air transport of more than one hundred cats and kittens to animal welfare groups in other states.

Those efforts freed up space in Kentucky Humane Society’s facility to accept rescued pet dogs and cats who survived the storm, giving them an opportunity to be reunited with their families.  The Humane Society of the United States also sent a team to offer assistance on the ground.

     Perhaps one gift you could make this Christmas might be to your local shelter, or to an organization helping animals caught in the aftermath of those tornadoes, when you’re speaking of pets.

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Mindy Norton has been “Speaking of Pets” on Alabama Public Radio since 1995.