Christmas Cats and Holiday Hounds

Busch sniffing LuLu
Busch sniffing LuLu
Busch checking out Lulu on the deck

This holiday season, if you are looking for a new family member, please don’t forget to check your local rescues and shelters first.  Missouri is one of the top states for puppy mill breeders.  Pets in pet stores are from puppy mills regardless of what the shop owner says.  No reputable breeder would let their dogs be showcased in a pet store with little exercise and little ventilation.  Not all dogs in shelters are mutts.  Two-thirds of dogs in shelters are pure breeds.  Even if you get a mutt, they can be the best dogs – I have had three wonderful foster mutts and have one very smart resident mutt!

Most rescues and shelters have low adoption fees ranging from $50 to $150.  That covers shots, microchip, vet exam, blood work and spay/neuter.  What a bargain!  You’re getting an amazing dog for the cost of the vet work.  Most rescues get the vet work done at a lower rate, so they are asking for much less than the actual vet bill would cost a regular person!  Some shelters do not charge an adoption fee, but require that the animal see a vet and be fixed within 30 days, but please uphold your end of the bargain!

The top reasons pets are dumped at the shelter:
1.  Moving
2.  New baby (By the way, kids love pets, and with great pairing, pets can feel the same way.)
3.  No time
4.  Cannot afford
5.  Allergies
6.  Personal problems (divorce, foreclosure)
7.  Soiling in house (Remember, this could be a sign of illness and not your pet’s fault.)
8.  Biting (Remember to pick a family friendly breed and always monitor small children with pets.)
9.  Runs away (Dogs can jump fences if determined.  Pick a fence to match the breed.)
10.  Untrained (Dogs need training – whether a book or a class, that’s up to you and your skill level.)

Remember to think long term.  Was this pet a family decision?  Do you know what annual vet bills cost?  Food?  Toys?  Grooming?  If you have to travel, where will the pet stay?  If you have to move, will the pet go with you?  If you have kids in the future, will the dog/cat stay or get the ol’ heave-ho?  If this is for kids and is their responsibility, will someone take up the slack if they forget?

If you do decide to spring for a pet, make sure it is a family decision.  Also, check with your vet or dog trainer/behaviorist about introducing new pets.  They can offer some great tips to help with the transition.  I like the Humane Society of Missouri’s tips for introducing new pets (dogs cats) along with other great information.  Dogs and cats are different than humans.  They are territorial and need time to adjust.  Keep small children away from dogs while they get acquainted – they may snap out of fear unintentionally.

Remember to be practical and rational in your decision.  Consider that winter might not be the best time to potty train a puppy.  Think about holiday travel plans.  Ask how the whole family will feel once the novalty wears off.  Or the puppy turns into a dog and the kitten a cat.  Think before you sign that adoption contract this holiday season.