Do Pets Make Good Gifts?

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Provided by Prince William County

It’s the holiday season and many people are searching for the perfect gift to give. While the Prince William County Animal Shelter encourages adoptions of the animals at the facility, they caution giving pets as gifts. Adopting a pet should be a carefully thought out and personal decision. According to the shelter, giving a pet to someone during the holidays deserves special considerations.

Ron Crigger is the chairman of the Prince William County Animal Advisory Committee. He said that beyond looking at how cute the pet may be, the primary issues one should consider are the responsibility, household circumstances and picking the right pet for the household.

People who are thinking about giving a pet to someone as a gift should make sure the recipient is prepared to care for the pet, Crigger said. “Don’t surprise anyone. People may be excited by the idea of a pet, but then when you surprise them with one, it might not be the pet they want, or they might not be ready.”

Leaving the decision to the person who is going to be the ultimate pet owner is the way to go. “A lot of people like to pick out their pets,” Crigger said.

Once they’re ready, Crigger recommends that people take time in choosing a pet and avoid impulse adoptions. “If you go to a shelter and you see a dog or a cat that you really like, walk away. Maybe come back the next day or maybe an hour later. Make sure you hold it and play with it. Make sure there’s that connection. You know when it’s the right time.”

Household circumstances should also dictate if it is wise to get a pet and what kind of pet would best suit a family, Crigger said. “If you’re a couch potato and you don’t like going outside, then consider a pet that you won’t have to walk three or four times a day. If you work many hours, and you’re just not home, maybe a cat would be better than a dog.”

The cost of owning an animal should also be part of any decision to get a pet, said Jeremy Beale, communications manager for the Prince William County Animal Control Bureau. “One of the most important factors to account for is financial responsibility. Owners should look at their finances and determine how much money they are willing to spend to ensure the new addition of their family is healthy, happy and cared for. Expenses include food, medical, dental, grooming, training and basic amenities ranging from leashes and crates to litter pans and beds.”

The fee to adopt an animal from the Prince William County Animal Shelter is $45 for cats and dogs, and owners may be subject to paying additional spay and neuter fees to partnering veterinarian practices.

For more information on the animal adoption process at the shelter, call 703-792-6465.

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