Sunday, December 19, 2010

Snowing Cats and Dogs for Christmas

A pet is not just a warm and fuzzy moment - it is a lifetime commitment

The holidays are now and always have been, a popular time to get a pet. Visions of small children laughing with joy,  puppy dances and kitty snuggles - these visions bring a smile to us all. 

But a pet is much more than that warm and fuzzy moment - it is a lifetime commitment.

Especially now with the economy bringing stress on so many families, please remember that the cute pet under the Christmas tree will be here long after the bows and wrappings are gone. Pet food and vet bills are now a part of the family budget.

Unfortunately, I know of too many families right now that are debating a very difficult decision. With rising costs, unemployment or lower paying jobs, they are painfully trying to decide if they can continue to properly care for their pets. These are pets who have been a part of the family for years so it is not an easy decision.

Also remember to check with your local humane societies and pet shelters, many of the pets there came from loving and caring homes. They may  be the result of one of those painful decisions!

Here is more helpful information:

Dogs and cats are a popular Christmas gift for children, but it is important to find out if one would be the right choice.
Beth Wellman is the Ionia County Animal Shelter coordinator and said those looking for a pet this holiday should take the time and research which animal they would like to have before going through with the purchase.

“It’s a responsibility,” said Wellman. “You need to think about a lot of things first.”

Before owning a dog, one factor people should discuss is the breed. Wellman said hunting breeds such as Labradors have more energy than protection breeds including German shepherds. The age of the dog will determine its energy factor as well.

With any pet, cost to keep the animal should also be a factor. Not only does a pet need food, licensing and other supplies, but a family needs to be able to pay for veterinary costs and vaccinations if something may arise with the animal’s health.

It is also necessary to think about the pet’s well-being during winter months if the pet will be staying outdoors. Dogs require a dog house and Wellman said there must be straw in the area of shelter for the animal to keep warm. She said many times she sees dogs or cats who suffer from frostbite on their ears and paws because of being exposed to the harsh weather conditions.

As coordinator for the animal shelter, Wellman said she would recommend potential pet owners to search a local shelter before going to a breeder. Many times animals at shelters are less expensive and are very friendly, she added. Fostering a dog or cat may be a better choice before making the commitment to owning a pet.

Wellman said she is hoping many of the animals in the Ionia County Animal Shelter become adopted this season.

“Christmas is such a family time,” she said. “We feel pets are part of the family.”

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