Holiday pet adoptions are more than romantic gifts
Furry friends require lifetime commitments, Nuzzles says
Adopting a pet as a gift to a loved one for the holidays is a romantic gesture that looks good on TV and in the movies.
While bringing home a new puppy or kitten donned with a bow or dressed in mini Santa suits is exciting and magical, these living creatures aren’t anything like a toy that can be discarded when the novelty wears off, said Arin Meade, director of animal placement at Nuzzles & Co., a pet rescue nonprofit.
“What some people don’t understand is that a pet is at least a 15- to 20-year commitment, and not just for the holidays,” Meade said. “We want to set up the animals for success, and we want people to know this animal will be living with them for years to come.”
One of the first things potential pet owners need to look at is their living quarters.
“It may not be a good match to live in an apartment and adopt a high-energy pet,” she said. “Also, some cats don’t like to live with other animals, so there may be a conflict with pets you already have.”
Another item on the checklist is considering expenses for medical emergencies, wellness checkups and training classes.
“Kittens and puppies have to be taken to the vet every two to three weeks for vaccinations and booster shots when they are 5 months old,” Meade said. “The animals can get sick if they aren’t up on their vaccines, and rabies vaccinations are required every three years.”
Vaccinations cost between $15 to $40 every three weeks, and yearly wellness exams run from $100 to $200, she said.
Added veterinarian expenses can pile up during emergencies, as well, according to Meade.
“One of my dogs has a history of snapping her nails off to the wick when she runs on ice,” she said. “You can’t really tell your dog not to run, so I plan on spending at least $150 every time I take her in for treatment, and just know that I will probably take her to the vet each winter.”
Proper training is also important if owners don’t want their furry friends making messes in the house, destroying furniture or not staying on a leash when required, Meade said.
“Getting them enrolled in socializing or basic obedience classes so they don’t turn into naughty adults is something that owners should look into,” she said. “Training classes can run from $150 to $300, depending on how many classes you want to take.”
On top of that, pets need licenses, and pet owners can register their pups and kitties with Summit County for $14, Meade said.
“This is a nominal cost, because if your dog has taken off and you’re caught without a registration, you can be charged much more for animal impound,”she said.
Food is also another obvious necessity, she said.
“Food can cost an average of $60 a month, unless the pet requires special food in the case of food allergies,” Meade said. “Special diets can cost more, and food allergies are sometimes hard to diagnose until the pet is older.”
Another concern is how much animals can grow in the first few years.
“At first, a lot of people can see a cute little puppy or kitten, but sometimes small animals, like children, won’t stay small,” Meade said. “Sometimes a 10-pound bundle of fur can become a 50-pound bundle of energy.”
After all of these requirements are checked off, there are still other concerns, according to Meade.
“Parents who get the pet for their kids and teens also need to be prepared for the responsibility,” she said. “They need to ask themselves what will happen with the pets when their children go off to college or move out and can’t take the pet with them.”
Also parents are usually the ones who have to drive the pets to the vet until their children pass their driving tests, Meade said.
“As you can see, there are a lot of things that go along with owning a pet, but that doesn’t mean getting a pet for a gift during the holidays is a bad thing,” she said. “If people have set money aside and are prepared to adopt, then the holidays are a good time to do that, because they get a present and add to the giving spirit of the season by buying their pets presents.”
This year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, Nuzzles & Co. has seen an increase of successful pet adoptions, Meade said.
“With COVID, many people are at home more and have the time and energy to invest in a cute buddy who becomes a lifelong companion,” she said.
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