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Pets for Christmas? A surprise might not be the best idea

 

Mikayla Reed, animal care attendant for the Columbus Lowndes Humane Society, holds a dog Wednesday that has been with the shelter since August. The humane society has six dogs and around 50 cats currently up for adoption.

Mikayla Reed, animal care attendant for the Columbus Lowndes Humane Society, holds a dog Wednesday that has been with the shelter since August. The humane society has six dogs and around 50 cats currently up for adoption. Photo by: India Yarborough/Dispatch Staff

 

Sam Cinscott, Columbus Lowndes Humane Society volunteer, brings a dog back to her kennel Wednesday after their walk outside. The humane society currently has six dogs and around 50 cats up for adoption.

Sam Cinscott, Columbus Lowndes Humane Society volunteer, brings a dog back to her kennel Wednesday after their walk outside. The humane society currently has six dogs and around 50 cats up for adoption.
Photo by: India Yarborough/Dispatch Staff

 

Karen Johnwick

Karen Johnwick

 

 

India Yarborough

 

 

Think before you adopt. 

 

That's the advice Columbus Lowndes Humane Society director Karen Johnwick would give to people considering picking up a new pet this holiday season. 

 

"We never recommend animals as a gift unless everyone is on board, especially not as a surprise gift," Johnwick said. 

 

She doesn't want to discourage adoption but said the decision should take into account the long-term responsibility of caring for an animal. 

 

"We just want you to be prepared," she added. 

 

The Columbus humane society has had 18 dogs and 10 cats adopted in the past week, which is slightly higher than normal. Johnwick said an influx of puppies on their end, though, may explain the recent spike. The shelter normally sees 60-80 adoptions per month, she said. 

 

On the other hand, the Oktibbeha County Humane Society has had 55 adoptions so far this December, which is at the low end of their typical adoption range of 50-80 pets per month, the shelter's outreach coordinator Sarah Buckleitner said. 

 

"With students out of town and many families planning to travel, our local adoptions have been slower than usual," she said. "However, recently our puppies and kittens have been very popular, and we've seen a lot of families come in to the shelter to pick out a new family member together." 

 

According to the Columbus humane society's website, the pet adoption process includes coming in to visit and play with the animals, filling out an adoption application and paying the necessary adoption fees: $70 for dogs or $30 for cats. Those costs cover basic vaccinations, heartworm and bordetella treatments, spaying or neutering and a microchip for dogs. Oktibbeha adoption fees are $170 for puppies, $120 for adult dogs, $90 for kittens and $65 for cats, and the fees include microchips for all animals, age appropriate vaccinations, spaying or neutering and heartworm and flea preventatives. 

 

Once a pet has been adopted it should visit a local veterinarian, said Clayton Anderson, one of four vets with Animal Medical Center in Columbus. 

 

"They need to come in for a good examination and to begin vaccinations and to check for the presence of any internal parasites," Anderson said. 

 

He said Animal Medical Center has seen more puppies than usual in recent weeks for these types of initial visits. 

 

Anderson said he has "mixed feelings" about adopting pets to give as gifts. 

 

"Pets are good to add to a family, but people really need to count the cost," he said. "Not just from a financial standpoint, but from the amount of time it takes to care for them." 

 

Buckleitner said it's never a good idea to surprise someone with a pet they do not want or are not prepared to care for. Like Johnwick, she advises everyone be on the same page. 

 

"As far as parents adopting pets to give to their children, as long as the parents are aware that they will likely be doing the brunt of the work themselves," she said, "and the children are made to understand that pets are family members and not toys, we'd love it if every Christmas tree had one of our cats or dogs beneath it this year."

 

 

 

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