Great pets are not great gifts

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 26, 2015

Parents work awfully hard to fulfill the Christmas wishes of their children.

However, most experts urge parents to think twice if little Johnny or Sally’s Christmas list includes a new pet.

In fact, many animal rescue groups stop allowing adoptions for a period of time just before Christmas. That’s because many of these groups experience the return of the animal a short time after the holidays, when the reality of what it takes to properly care for a pet sets in. The child loses interest and the family simply doesn’t have time; the animal is neglected and suffers.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

However, that’s not the case in Vicksburg, one expert said.

Vicksburg Warren Humane Society president Georgia Lynn said her agency takes a step on the front end of each adoption that helps to ensure a safe and forever home for adopted puppies and kittens.

“We require a veterinary reference before anyone can adopt an animal,” Lynn said.

“We’ve been doing that for over a year and it’s really worked. If someone owns pets currently or owned them in the past, we make certain they have kept those pets up to date on all vaccinations and that they were spayed or neutered and that when the pet was sick or injured, they took them to the vet for treatment.”

Potential adoptees are required to sign a form, giving veterinarian clinics permission to release information about their past pet care history.

“If you have a child that wants a pet and they are a responsible child, then I think it’s OK. It depends on the circumstances,” Lynn said. “The ones we’ve adopted out at the holidays, I don’t remember a single one coming back to us.”

Adopting a pet at the holiday might not be the best time because of the stress related with holidays.

“Holidays are hectic. Adopting a pet itself is chaos. You’re trying to housebreak a pet and the pet is in a strange environment and company is coming over. That’s just not a good thing for anybody,” she said. “To get a new puppy and train it right, you must be committed and dedicated. It’s just a matter of common sense.”

Lynn recommended defining a space in your home for the new pet that’s quiet, where the animal will feel safe and secure.

“When you have a lot of people in your house, or your dog isn’t used to children, that’s when we see problems like an increase in dog bites. Use common sense. Owning an animal requires common sense and a lot of responsibility,” she said. “Ask yourself, can I feed it? What if it gets sick? Can you take it to a veterinarian? It’s kind of like having a child. It’s going to have to go to the doctor. It goes back to a child is a child. If you get a pet for your child, it’s going to need the parents’ help to take care of it properly.”

Before requiring the veterinary reference, Lynn said, even though the cost of spaying and neutering each dog or cat is included in the adoption fee, the adopter often wouldn’t have the animal spayed or neutered, and would then come back to the Humane Society, surrendering to them a litter of puppies or kittens.

“People simply didn’t go get it done. Those are the kind of people who should not be adopting animals and who can’t get a veterinary reference,” she said. “Now, we know every animal is going into a responsible home and that the owners have the proper reference. This vet reference has made a lot of difference. Now we have nothing returned, almost zero.”