With Christmas fast approaching we are making are lists and checking them twice. Well there is one gift a lot of kids ask for that I strictly advise not buying, pets, specifically dogs and cats. We all have the image of Christmas morning with the puppy or kitten with a bow around its neck; however, a pet given at Christmas has a pretty good shot at being abandoned by Easter. My dog Bella, and my in-law’s dog Binx, were both abandoned unwanted Christmas presents.
There are two factors that contribute to pet abandonment: surprise responsibility and the pet not fitting in.
I know that the saying is very clichÃ?Â© but a pet is a very big responsibility. The first few weeks of owning a puppy or kitten will involve it having accidents all over the house and a lot of clean up. A dog needs to be housebroken; a cat needs to be litter box trained. The responsible thing when owning a dog would be to train it. On top of the food bill there are also vet bills and destruction bills. Puppies and kittens need their shots and unless you plan to breed, the responsible thing would be to spay or neuter it. When I got Bella she had a habit of grabbing socks and underwear from the laundry pile and hiding them underneath the bed. Bella also had a habit of ripping at the seams of stuffed animals and pulling out all the stuffing. Aside from Bella I have another dog Maimai. My first few months of owning Maimai, she chewed up 10 pairs of my flip-flops and 2 pairs of my dress shoes. Both have since been broken of those habits. Cats are not immune to this. Aside from owning 2 dogs I used to own a cat, Midnight. (I later found out I was allergic so I gave her to my friend) The first few weeks of owning Midnight involved cleaning up a lot of kitty litter that she tracked all over the house. Like a lot of cats she loved paper and turned it into confetti at every opportunity. Once I left a cardboard box in the middle of the living room. The next morning when I woke up there were little bits of cardboard scattered all over the house. For me all this was nothing, but to some people all this destruction and bills are just not worth the end result of the joy of owning a pet.
Just like how every person is unique with their own personalities and characteristics, the same is true of dogs and cats. Yes, certain characteristics are typical of certain breeds but those characteristics vary from animal to animal. Just like how you need to test drive a car before you buy it, even a new one, you need to “test drive” your pet before purchasing it. I have always been a loyal fan on Hondas. However I am not a fan of Honda Civics, I love Honda Accords. When I went to go buy one, I was a fan of the 2010 model but not the 2012 model. The same is true with pets. Unlike Bella, Maimai came from a breeder. While at the breeder my husband and I had narrowed our choices down to 2 puppies, Stinky and Freckles. I personally liked Stinky’s coloring, she looked like a skunk, but Stinky didn’t really care for me. She was more interested in playing with her brothers and sisters than even letting me pet her. I wasn’t a big fan of Freckle’s color, gray with black spots, but she showed us a lot of affection. She was constantly jumping into my husband’s lap and wanting him to play with her. At one point she wouldn’t even eat unless my husband fed her. In the end we chose personality over color. Cats are no different. My cat Midnight and her brother Mosaic were both stray kittens that I found on my property. When it all started, I wanted to keep Mosaic due to his coloring. Mosaic is a Tuxedo and Midnight is black. When I picked up Midnight she immediately cuddled up to me and wouldn’t stop following me when I put her down. Mosaic wanted nothing to do with me. As soon as I picked him up his claws came out. He immediately hid from me when I put him down. In the end the clear winner for me was Midnight. Personality is a big factor when it comes to choosing a pet. The only true way of knowing whether it’s the right one is if the recipient and the animal meet before purchase.
Despite both me and my in-laws owning abandoned unwanted Christmas presents, so few pets are as lucky as they are. My neighbor found Bella in a box on the side of the road the day after Christmas. My neighbor having mental retardation problems chained her to his fence and let her eat the garbage. My husband and I had a chat with him and talked him into handing her over to us. Bella was 3 months old at the time and was cold and hungry for 2 days. That is not good for any dog, let alone a 3-month-old puppy. My husband and I were at a dog-training class when we were told about Binx. The dog groomer approached us asking if we’d like another large dog. Maimai is a Great Dane and finding someone willing to take in such a giant breed is very difficult. Her friend had found a Great Dane (He ended up being a Great Dane Lab mix) abandoned on the side of the road and took him to the pound. My mother-in-law decided to rescue him. He was clearly someone’s dog because he knew the basic commands of sit and wait and was house trained. The biggest problem with him was that he was extremely hyper and was Mr. Destructo. Although he’s calmed down, he still is destructive. When we left him at the pound to get neutered he started whining, and according to the nurse, as soon as he woke up from the anesthesia he wouldn’t stop whining until we came to pick him up. Later on we realized that whenever he was in the car for more than 20 minutes he would start whining. We assume that whoever abandoned him drove for about 20 minutes before leaving him on the side of the road. Binx and Bella are the lucky ones. Usually dogs and cats that get left on the side of the road either get hit by cars, run over, or become so violent due to survival instinct that they are considered too aggressive to become adoptable so they are euthanized.
Now despite all my warnings and reasonings on why buying a dog or cat as a Christmas present there are still some people out there insistent on doing so, swearing that friend or family member loves animals and would never do this. Remember I only talked about abandoned animals. There’s also the “responsible” bunch that drop the cat or dog off at the pound. Although it’s better than abandonment it’s still not good. However if one is insistent that a dog or cat must be given as a gift, there is a much better alternative, pet vouchers. Think of it as a “gift card” for a dog or cat. I started Pet I.O.U after making it my mission to prevent another dog from going through what Bella went through. Pet I.O.U sells vouchers you can buy for your friend or family member promising a dog or cat. That way you can still buy your friend or family member the pet but it’s done in a more responsible way. The recipient can accompany you to the purchase of the animal so the animal can fit his or her personality and needs.