Pet experts say there are many things to consider before making a purchase or adoption during the holiday season.
K.C. Theisen, director of pet care at the Humane Society of the United States, said people often “impulse buy” when it comes to pets.
People get very much wrapped up in the excitement and the impulse moment, she said.
Theisen recommended giving serious thought before buying a pet for the holidays.
“The reason is, the holidays are not always the best time for your recipient to bring a new animal home,” said Theisen. “You have to remember that you’re giving this person a lifetime responsibility, and to suddenly surprise them with it may not be in the best interest of the gift recipient or of the pet involved.”
Due to some chaotic households around the holidays, she recommends getting a gift certificate to a local pet shelter or putting a stuffed pet dog or cat under the tree with a collar, tag and leash. She said this lets “the kids know: ‘hey, we’re going to go get a new pet. But we’re going to wait until this crazy part of the year is finished.’”
The number of adoptions have classically spiked around the holiday season, said Ryan Drabek, director of OC Animal Care in Orange.
“Our staff is good about inquiring with folks when they come in to adopt, (such as) trying to find out their living situation, trying to find out if they’ve owned pets before and their experience,” said Drabek.
“If they come in trying to adopt a certain breed and it doesn’t seem like a good fit, obviously we’ll try to discourage that. We can’t discriminate, but we can certainly discourage certain adoptions,” he said.
He said the most frustrating thing for an animal shelter is that when somebody adopts and returns the animal in a couple of days because they did not realize what they were getting into.
For students considering buying a pet from a shelter, Drabek said although some fees are required to adopt an animal, it is still less expensive than a store.
All animals are required by state law to be spayed and neutered, $40 for cats and $50 for dogs. In addition, every animal is required to get vaccinations, a microchip, deworming and flea treatments.
Katie Takeshita, 25, a Costa Mesa resident, has owned dogs her entire life before getting a puppy of her own and said her life had to adjust to cater to the new resident
“A lot of times my parents would take care of them, so I don’t think I really understood all that goes into having a dog, and just the amount of time it takes,” said Takeshita.
Margaret Torres, 21, a mathematics and psychology double major, said the responsibility of having a dog would be the same as having a baby.
“You have to take care of it as if it’s a human. And especially since, let’s say you’re never there, then why get the pet if you’re going to abandon it?” said Torres.
Since Torres is a full-time student with two jobs, a dog or cat, according to Theisen, would not be a logical Christmas gift for someone to give her.
Kristen Metz, 23, an English and history double major, said she would not want the responsibility of having a dog or cat either.
“It’s like a lifelong commitment. You have to take care of it for the rest of their life, and it’s too much of a responsibility,” said Metz.