It's the time of year when the allure of a joy-filled Christmas morning makes adults consider giving a puppy or kitten as a gift, especially to children.
A few points to consider before leaping in to that decision:
COMMITMENT: Adopting a pet is a commitment that lasts the animal's lifetime. Make sure the entire family is on board and understands the responsibilities that come with pet ownership. Some animals can live upward of 20 years.
SHARED CARE: Children cannot take on the sole responsibility of caring for a pet. Once the newness wears off, parents likely will need to step in and help care for the animal.
PATIENCE, PATIENCE, PATIENCE: Puppies love to chew on everything — shoes, baseboards, furniture. You name it and they will chew it. They usually do not come housetrained, so expect accidents, unless of course, an older pet is being adopted. However, puppies almost always need to learn the house rules and the appropriate places to potty.
GROWING UP: Cute little puppies grow up to be big dogs and kittens grow into cats. Depending on breed, that adorable puppy could grow to be 50-plus pounds and still will need constant love, care and attention.
EXPENSE: Pets require routine veterinary care, monthly preventatives for heartworms and fleas, and regular grooming along with good, nutritious food. They also need toys, beds, chew bones, kennels, feeding bowls, collars, leashes, litter, litter boxes, etc. The list goes on and on. Be prepared for the financial commitment that comes with owning a pet.
YOURS TO KEEP: Once the newness wears off, this new family member still will need love, care and attention. The influx of pets in shelters each year after the holidays is disheartening, and it is because giving a pet as a present is often an impulse decision.
If one is seriously considering a new pet this holiday season, do the homework, and go as a family to adopt a dog or cat.
Pet ownership is a wonderful experience, and when the whole family is involved and knows the responsibilities and commitment that come with it, the experience will be a positive and lasting one for all.
DECEMBER: Adoptables 6 months and older will be available for $50 through the Louisiana SPCA. There's also a holiday delivery program: For a $75 donation, the SPCA will deliver a newly adopted pet on either Christmas Eve, Christmas Day or Kwanzaa. This program is available for all animals adopted from the Louisiana SPCA two weeks before the desired delivery date. For more information, visit www.la-spca.org/homefortheholidays.
WEDNESDAY: The Louisiana SPCA's Reactive Rover Workshop is designed to help pet owners who struggle with a dog that barks or lunges at other dogs while on a leash. The workshop will lay out the genetic and environmental underpinnings of dog-dog reactivity, discuss the underlying causes and offer protocols for modifying the behavior. The Reactive Rover workshop is from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. and includes resources, training plans and video tutorials. To register, visit www.la-spca.org/trainingworkshops.
WEDNESDAY-SUNDAY: Louisiana SPCA volunteers will wrap gifts at Clearview Mall from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. The charge is a donation of any amount to the Louisiana SPCA Special Needs Fund. For more information, visit www.la-spca.org.
LOST OR FOUND PETS: In Orleans Parish, send a photo, description of the pet, date lost/found and your contact info to firstname.lastname@example.org. In Jefferson Parish, send to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. In St. Bernard Parish, send to email@example.com.