We’ve all seen the feel-good holiday movies where a girlfriend, wife, child, or family is “gifted” a kitten or a puppy on Christmas morning. The bright red bow around the neck, the puppy popping up out of the decorated box, the recipient squealing in delight – it all paints a perfect picture of holiday bliss. Unfortunately, statistics show that a significant percentage of pets adopted during the holidays for this purpose are returned to the shelter or are not adequately cared for by their new owners. Abandoned, abused, and neglected pets are at epidemic levels in this country, and the numbers only grow during and after the holiday season. That cute little puppy isn’t always as adorable when they start chewing on your new furniture or destroy a pair of expensive shoes. Sometimes cost is a factor in abandonment, as well. According to the ASPCA, the average cost for the first year of pet ownership can be between $1,000-1800, depending on the type, age, and particular needs of the animal.

Vet Care for Cats and Dogs

When thinking about adopting a pet, make sure you have all the facts on what it will take to care for the animal throughout its lifetime. Raising responsible pet owners is something that all parents should strive to do, so making your child a part of the discussion can be beneficial. Where will the pet sleep, what is necessary for the pet’s care and ongoing health, and how much will it all cost? Speak with a South Coast veterinarian to discuss vaccination schedules and costs, annual check-ups, preventive treatments, and other care that can help to give your pet a solid start in life. Daily care and feeding, including scooping up waste and exercise, should be divided equally among family members ahead of time to reinforce responsibility on a daily basis.

The hard truth is that regardless of the type of pet – cats and dogs, reptiles and birds, pocket pets, and other rodents – many end up in shelters within a few weeks or months after the holiday season. Much of this is as a result of the individual not knowing how to care for the animal properly or not even wanting the pet in the first place. Well-meaning family, friends, and loved ones often “gift” a pet without really taking into consideration how this could impact the recipient and the pet itself. Every year kittens, puppies, turtles, fish, hamsters, lizards, birds, and other pets are given as holiday gifts when they should be adopted and brought into the home with full knowledge of the responsibility, work, and cost required to properly care for the animal.

A New Way to Adopt

One way that people can help to reduce the number of animals in the local shelters and give a person or family the gift of a pet is to create a pet adoption gift basket instead of adopting for them. The basket could include a gift certificate from the shelter along with pet-themed items, such as toys, beds, blankets, leashes, food dishes, etc. If you know the person wants a particular type of pet, this can make it easier. This also allows the individual to visit the shelter on their own to choose a pet that matches with their personality and lifestyle. A single person in a small apartment might not be able to keep a large breed dog, or a person with cat allergies might feel stuck when gifted an adorable kitten. Additional gift cards can be given to assist with vaccinations, preventive treatments, grooming, training, fencing, and more.

However you decide to adopt a pet, make sure to schedule a first check-up with one of our veterinary team members at Anchor Animal Hospital in Dartmouth. We provide a wide range of services and consultations to help our clients provide quality nutrition, treatment, and vet care for cats and dogs, pocket pets, and more. Winter care for reptiles, small rodents, and other popular pets can be very helpful to ensure that the animal lives a long, healthy, and happy life. The proper habitat, diet, and care go a long way to making sure that the pet becomes a part of the family and that the family takes responsibility for the animal. To schedule an appointment with one of our team members, contact a South Coast veterinarian at our facility by calling 508-996-3731. We can answer any questions you might have about veterinary care and costs.