According to Carol Link, manager of the local Cornwall SPCA on Boundary Road, at one time they did not give out animals for adoption during the period immediately before Christmas. This was because so many people would decide that a pet would be an ideal last-minute gift. When people give pets as a gift without adequate preparation, it becomes a sure recipe for disaster.
However, just too many animals only want a loving family with whom to spend the rest of their lives. The Humane Societies now sometimes encourages people to bring pets home for the holidays.
The first thing to be sure of is that the person actually wants a pet, and can look after it. For example, a puppy that requires a lot of attention might be a mistake for a single working person, who must be out of the house for eight or more hours every day. Equally, giving a kitten unannounced on Christmas morning to someone who has no litter and litter box, no cat food, and no suitable toys can be worse than an evil neighbour giving your kids a drum set and trumpets.
It is also important to match the energy level of a pet to its future owner. Giving a St Bernard or a Great Dane might not be a good idea for an older person with arthritis, although a small Poodle or Bichon might be great.
Dogs can make wonderful gifts, but unlike sweaters or socks, you can’t return them to Wal-Mart if they don’t fit. Is the recipient ready and able to make a commitment for the animal’s entire lifetime? Can they afford veterinary care, vaccine and dog food costs? Would the animal potentially damage valuable furniture or antiques? If someone lives in a high-rise, is he or she allowed pets? How easy will it be to toilet train the puppy if there are long delays waiting for an elevator? The relationship between human and dog must be approached with care and respect – only then will you have a gift truly worth giving!
The dogs and cats at the humane shelter, unlike those at pet stores, do not have a “best before date.” They are not a commodity that has to be sold in a hurry, no matter what. Pet stores that sell dogs and cats (often at an outrageous price, and sometimes from puppy mills) have no interest in either the animal’s welfare or your welfare. All they want is your money, before the dog or cat becomes too old to sell.
The SPCA, however, offers a counselling service, and will make sure that the dog or cat really is a welcome gift, and that both the pet and its family will be happy for the rest of the animal’s life.
To get an idea of the animals available, call the SPCA at 613.936.0072, or go to their website. If you really do want a pet, but Christmas is not a good time, you can also get a gift certificate. All the dogs and cats come with their (age appropriate) shots, and spaying/neutering is included in the price, as well as six weeks free medical insurance.
And remember Frederica, a lovely cat who has been looking for a home since August.