What is cuter than the face of a little kid who is presented a puppy or kitten as a Christmas present?
That cuteness, however, can turn sour fairly quickly if the child and the child’s family are not prepared to take good care of that puppy or kitten.
Parents should think twice about giving any kind of animal as a Christmas gift. In fact, every potential pet owner should do some homework before adopting a pet. Please don’t misinterpret this advice as a message from Scrooge. Adoption of animals is a wonderful thing, year-round. But people should remember, before adopting, animals are not stuffed toys that can be tossed into a toy box when not wanted.
Here are the factors people should consider before adopting a pet:
1. Do you have the patience to train a dog to go potty outside? It can take quite a bit of work and effort to properly potty-train a dog. It might even require some advice from pet experts. Also pet-owners must be prepared for occasional potty “accidents” inside the house and not yell at or punish the dog when that happens.
2. Cat owners are lucky because cats, unlike dogs, need not be potty-trained. They take to their kitty-litter boxes by instinct. However, the drawback is kitty-litter boxes must be kept clean, and litter must be replenished now and then. The good thing is it takes less than a minute to clean a kitty box if done every day or every other day.
3. Another potential drawback about cats is they like to hone their front claws, and they can scratch to pieces carpets and upholstery. Scratch posts are helpful, but in some cases they don’t solve the problem entirely. Cats can be surgically de-clawed, but pet experts do not recommend it. At most places, that procedure costs in excess of $100.
4. Keep in mind that pets, of course, must be fed. In recent years, the cost of pet food, like everything else, has increased. Can you afford to feed your pets? Call the humane society and get some idea of how much a pet will consume and about how much it will cost to feed that pet. Then do your math and see if you can work it into the budget.
5. A rabies vaccination is vital. A few other shots are also important. Before getting a pet, find out which shots are recommended and how much they will cost.
6. Last but not least, pets should be spayed or neutered. Not only will they be happier house pets, but you can be assured they won’t get pregnant “accidentally.” Getting a cat or dog “fixed” can also cost in excess of $100. There is a mobile spay-neuter service called SNAP, geared toward low-income people. However, by far the best way to get a pet is to adopt one from the Tri-County Humane Society in St. Cloud. All of its dogs and cats are spayed or neutered, vaccinated and equipped with identity chips before being adopted out.
7. Never adopt dogs from “puppy mills.” Do not help perpetuate such cruelty.
For more information about how to adopt a pet and what it requires, call the TCHS at 252-0896. Local pet stores also have good information about the needs of pets.