Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Go ahead: Adopt a pet for Christmas!

Liam the pug with his Christmas tree
For years, we've all been told that adopting pets around the holiday season was a bad idea, particularly if the pet was slated to become a gift for someone else. There's too much hustle and bustle around the holidays, the experts would say, and some pets lose their novelty when the spring arrives and they become homeless when summer is in full swing.

Hogwash, says the latest research.

In a recent telephone survey conducted by the ASPCA, 96 percent of pet owners got their furry critters as gifts, and about 86 percent of those pets were still living with their original owners (or did so until they passed away). This means that pets given as gifts are no less likely to be homeless than are pets acquired in any other way.

Good news, right?

In addition, some trainers are even recommending that new pet owners take home a wee one when the holidays are in full swing, as most families tend to be at home for long periods of time during this season. Rather than bringing home a pet and then ignoring it as the family goes off to work or to school, a pet brought home during the holidays is more likely to have people around 24/7, and that might prove vital during the first few (crucial) adjustment days.

Now that this thinking shift has taken hold, many rescue organizations are lifting long-standing bans on holiday adoptions. The Oregon Humane Society, for example, is holding a great big "Home for the Holidays" event, in which people are encouraged to look for a furry creature to take home before December comes to a close.

Taking on a new pet during the holiday season isn't for the faint of heart. In fact, there's a significant amount of preparation families might need to do in order to ensure that the home is safe for little pets. Presents and trees pose obvious hazards, but chocolate, fatty foods and even candles could cause serious harm to new pets that might not have their family-friendly behaviors down pat. Sweeping through the home and ensuring that all dangers are safely out of reach is a good place to start, but providing adequate supervision might also be key to keeping wee ones safe.

It's also worth mentioning that some small animals are simply overwhelmed by holiday festivities, and they might appreciate some quiet time. While you might love to share your new puppy with your party guests, that pup might also like a warm kennel to sleep in, far away from the noise and the grabbing hands. Respecting the space, and the mental health, of new pets can make the adjustment period a little less stressful.

So get out there and adopt a new pet! You'll make Santa proud.

Liam the pug and Sinead the Boston terrier and their tree

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