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From 22 December 2002 Issue

"Pets" As Gifts
By Lisa Marie Tabor - myREBAdog@att.net 

It is commonly said that Christmas is a bad time to receive a pet or to give one as a gift. Each year, pleading children and commercials that show a new puppy in a box under the tree and encourage people to give pets as gifts. As a result, animal shelters and rescue organizations are overwhelmed with trying to find responsible families for homeless animals because of the great increase in the number of abandoned pets following the holiday season.

Many animals received as gifts for the holidays end up tied out in the yard, starving for love and attention. Sometimes they are left with no food, water or shelter. Many end up on the streets, in shelters or are given away to free homes, only to end up in the same situation again or possibly face death.

If somebody is considering giving a pet as a gift, realize that animals are an enormous responsibility, both financially and in terms of what the pet will require. Basic veterinary services such as vaccinations, spaying or neutering, and annual examinations can be very costly and this does not include the expense of unexpected injuries or health issues. Food for the pet also must be considered because it can be very costly.

Many children who receive a pet are not yet old enough to understand how to take on the responsibility of a pet. Sure, it is fun for the child when receiving such a "gift;" however, the person considering giving one should first realize that a pet will be needing things that a child is not yet mature enough to give to them or do for them.

Before rushing out to buy a pet for a gift, please consider the following as an alternative. It will help save many lives and also help to control the pet overpopulation that exists today:

* Giving an adoption certificate allows a person to give the gift of a pet in writing, allowing for the recipients to make that choice when and if they are ready to take on the responsibility. It also allows for the recipient to choose the pet to fit his or her lifestyle. Adoption certificates will usually cover the basic costs, which often include spaying or neutering.

* If you know a person who is thinking about adding a new member to his or her family, consider giving educational books, such a pet care books.

* Making a financial donation to a shelter, rescue group or adoption agency is a kind gesture. People who are not in the position to have a pet will be grateful for this and at the same time it will be helping out the less fortunate animals who are always in need.

Animals are living beings who depend on a responsible guardian for many years. This Christmas please remember that animals are not toys to give as gifts.

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