PARKERSBURG - Many Christmas gifts can be bought without much thought but there is one - buying a family dog or cat - that needs to be thought out carefully and planned.
Mary Ann Hollis, executive director of the Humane Society of Parkersburg, said the question of buying a cat or dog for Christmas is something that should not be done without a lot of thought on a number of factors.
"First, are you or your family ready for a commitment of 10 to 16 or 20 years," she said. "There are also expenses to consider for veterinarian care, food, toys and other costs."
Photo by Jeffrey Saulton
Penny McDonald, a supervisor at the Humane Society of Parkersburg, holds Sparky, one of the dogs available for adoption at the shelter.
Hollis said the way a family celebrates Christmas should also be considered.
"If your family is active and if it is a hectic time, the dog or cat may be too stressed coming into that environment. If you have a lot of people around, the number of strangers could be a scary time for the new pet," she said. "If your family celebration is more quiet, a dog or cat coming into your home will not feel as stressed."
Hollis said the best thing to do may be to decide to buy a dog or cat and then wait. This will relieve stress for both the family and the new pet.
"You can get a gift certificate for the purchase later," she said. "Before then the family can take part in getting ready by getting together the things the dog or cat would need, like water and food bowls, food, toys, bedding and other items."
Hollis said this approach would allow the entire family to have a say in what dog or cat they would choose and bring the pet into the home where it can ease into a normal routine.
Hollis said the staff at the Humane Society of Parkersburg can help a family determine what is best for them and advise them on when the best time would be for them to bring a dog or cat into the home. She said they can also help with advice if the addition becomes a problem.
"If there are problems we can help you work through them because they may be temporary problems with the transition into a family," she said. "We'd like to see them stay in the home, but if there are problems that can't be worked out we can take them back."