Beware ‘perfect’ presentPublished 9:30pm Tuesday, November 13, 2012
A puppy with a red-ribbon bow waits beneath the tree. Some would argue nothing could bring more joy on a Christmas morning. But when it comes to making a gift of a pet, especially a surprise gift, officials at the Betsy Bailey Nelson Animal Control Facility in Washington are warning people to think it through: a new pet during the hectic holidays may be more than you bargained for.
“It can be unexpectedly overwhelming,” said Todd Taylor, chief of Beaufort County Animal Control. “You have to prep to become an animal owner. You’ve got to have everything in play and planned for. At the same time, you have all this other holiday stuff going on.”
Taylor said he’s seen it before, when the “perfect” gift requires more care than new pet owners can give.
“It’s not like going to the store and buying a present,” Taylor said. “There’s a long-term dedication there. … I know it’s happened in the past, where people have brought (animals) back.”
In the meantime, a returned pet could have missed an opportunity to find a “forever home” with another family, Taylor added.
Another issue of which to be aware is that young (and older) pets are naturally inquisitive, particularly in new environments. During the holidays, there are plenty of opportunities around the house for curiosity to lead to illness: eating tinsel can lead to foreign bodies in a pet’s intestines, then surgery to remove them; a sufficient quantity of chocolate Christmas treats can mean severe illness, perhaps even death; and poinsettias and lilies can be toxic to pets, according to Dr. Boorus Yim, a veterinarian.
Taylor advised that those who are looking to adopt a pet from the shelter for the holidays should give themselves plenty of time to go through the process. Though the actual adoption takes only 10 to 15 minutes, a dog or cat that has not been spayed or neutered will need several days to have, and recover from, surgery.
“Most of the time, it’s three days,” Taylor said. “With holidays, of course, (veterinary offices) are closed and have different schedules to work around.”
Despite the warning to holiday pet shoppers, Taylor said, there are happy endings for pets that started their new family life as Christmas gifts — happy endings because of the preparedness and planning of their owners.
For more information about adopting a pet from the Betsy Bailey Nelson Animal Control Facility, call 252-946-4517 or visit the shelter at 3931 U.S. Highway 264 East, Washington. The cost to adopt an unspayed or unneutered dog is $65; it’s $45 for cats (includes the surgery, microchip, bordatella and parvo/distemper shots and a wormer).