Archived Story

Pets for gifts? Shelter cautions potential owners to think before jumping to ‘lifetime commitment’

Published 8:02pm Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Just picture it – a happy child is opening Christmas presents in his pajamas when a cute puppy, wagging its tail, comes walking around the corner with a red bow tied around its neck.

However, Lake Martin Animal Shelter Manager Mia Chandler says “gifting” a pet is a lifetime commitment and is not something that should be done as a surprise or on a whim.

“It is never a good idea to gift an animal – any size, shape or breed – ever,” Chandler said. “If you are a family and want to introduce a pet to the family, Christmas is a great time to do it as long as everybody’s on

board and you are looking at the big picture – meaning the lifetime commitment – and not just the holidays.”

Chandler said many people visit the shelter – grandparents seeking a surprise gift for their grandchildren, for example, or a family member seeking a pet to provide companionship for a person who lives alone – to choose pets for others without considering the whole scope.

“I understand the concept of somebody believing that someone’s lonely and they want to give them the gift of companionship, but in all honesty, with the animal comes responsibility,” Chandler said. “There’s a financial burden, there’s a medical burden, and they need attention, training and exercise. All of this cannot be wrapped in a package.”

Chandler said she recommends giving the process of adoption rather than giving the animal itself as a gift.

“You can gift the process, meaning you can get a certificate,” Chandler said. “The applicant still must go through the procedure and be approved or what have you. But you can relieve some of the financial burden and give them a lifetime of assistance.”

Chandler said the “uglier story” relating to pet adoption comes four to six weeks following Christmas and Valentine’s Day.

“Lots of puppies and kittens exchange hands to people that were not necessarily expecting them or that it seemed a good idea (to adopt them),” Chandler said. “They didn’t sit down and truly process the lifetime commitment. Within four to six weeks of both of those holidays, I’ll have an influx of untrained, non-vaccinated animals. It’s difficult when you’re already having your regular intakes to have so many come in because of the gifting.”

On a happier note, however, Chandler said the shelter will be giving a big thank you to its supporters through a drawing related to pet adoptions this month.

“Each pet adopted during the month of December will receive a goody bag and be placed in a drawing,” Chandler said. “The drawing will consist of a microchip voucher, QR pet tag and other goodies.”

The retail value of the package will be near $100.

To find out more about the drawing, the adoption process or any available pets, call the shelter at 256-234-5533. Lake Martin Animal Shelter is located at 2502 Sugar Creek Road in Alexander City, near T.C. Russell Airport.