Humane Society cautions against pets as gifts

Published 6:34 pm Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Pets are a popular holiday gift for children as parents strive to teach their little ones responsibility, but the Bainbridge-Decatur County Humane Society cautions parents about considering the commitment carefully.

“If the whole family is on board, it can be a great thing” said Beth Eck, Bainbridge-Decatur County Humane Society director. “It shouldn’t be something the recipient doesn’t know about.”

Eck said that the Humane Society does not allow anyone to adopt a pet for someone else if they do not live in the same household.

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“It’s not a spur-of-the-moment decision,” Eck said. “Don’t get a pet as a last-minute gift.”

Eck stressed the different things parents and potential pet-owners should consider such as breed activity levels and how often the owners will be away.

“Dogs take more time than a cat, so you should think about the hours you’ll be away,” Eck said. “Cats are more popular because they’re more self-sufficient.”

There are several reasons to adopt a rescue pet versus one from a breeder, Eck said.

“When you rescue an animal, you save a life. When you buy from a breeder, you support their lifestyle of making a profit off of animals,” Eck said.

Many people prefer to buy from breeders because they want purebreds, but those can be found in many shelters and breed rescues, Eck said.

“A lot of people say you don’t know what you’re getting when you adopt from a shelter,” Eck said, “but you also don’t know what you’re getting health-wise from a puppy mill.”

A puppy mill, according to the ASPCA, is a large-scale commercial breeding operation that frequently leads to neglected and abused dogs because the owners place profit over the wellbeing of the animals.

“It’s like a person. Even if you get a purebred, there’s no way to know what you’re going to get in regards to health,” Eck said. “I think people see that more and more because of the increased coverage of puppy mills.”

For a child, a pet can provide company, comfort and responsibility lessons.

“It just has to be really thought out, “ Eck said. “The animal should be treated like a member of the family.”

The ASPCA only recommends giving pets as gifts to people who have expressed a sustained interest in owning one.

“If the recipient is under 12 years old, the child’s parents should be ready and eager to assume care for the animal,” the ASPCA said in a statement on pets as gifts.