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Norwich Bulletin - 12/10/2006

The Christmas Present

Organizations are always faced with the dilemma of Christmas pets - do we adopt out for the holiday or do we not? Will we get more "returns" because the pet is a holiday whim, or will more cats and dogs have a chance at getting a home if we encourage Christmas adoptions? Itís hard to know what to do, but in the years that have gone by, Helping Paws has come up with some conclusions.

We will always get a percentage of returns from people who do not think of all the angles when adopting a pet, whether it be Christmas or not. I have had people return cats because they were too friendly or not friendly enough in the two days they had them. I have had people who adopted from us who decided they just no longer wanted a cat.

I have to admit, as jaded as I have become as to how selfish and insensitive people in our society have become towards animals, I am always surprised when one of our animals are returned to us and feel like I personally failed the animal we rescued and promised a new forever home.

So, given that returns happen no matter when the pet is adopted, I will take the chance and offer Christmas adoptions. I will not offer them on Christmas Eve because I deserve to have my holidays with my family too. I suggest that moms and dads tell their children the pet is from them as Santa should not bring live presents.

You never know if something will happen to that animal or perhaps there will be allergies or another good reason you will not be able to keep it, and Santa would never bring a present that a child could not keep! Let Santa bring all the extras for the pet - the bed, scratching post, interactive toys for the children to play with their new cat or dog, but not the animal itself. Children need to know that an animal is a responsibility and a family must choose that responsibility.

Of course, all the adults in the home must want the new pet because if there is one person not convinced adding to their family is a good idea, chances are the adoption will fail. The adults, not the children should pick out the animal, since ultimately the new cat or dog (or other) will belong to mom and dad.

One of the reasons I will adopt out on the holiday is because the Christmas season is a great time for adult cats to get homes. Kitten season is over and there are almost no kittens to be had anywhere. Helping Paws may get one or two litters that were born late in the season, but normally our kittens are five and six months old.

There are young and old cats in care who would love to have a family for the holidays and we are willing to take that chance so that our foster homes as well as our foster cats, may find themselves cageless on Christmas morning.

Have you been thinking of a new cat or dog and waiting for the holidays to bring them home? If so, there are a few things to put into place before you bring your new pet home. Designate a new pet room for the busy part of the holidays. Most animals will be shy when they first get to their new home and may find the hustle and bustle of opening presents, laughing, shouting and child excitement too much in the first few days in a new home.

Kittens and puppies need lots of sleep and can end up sick if not properly cared for right from the beginning. Adult cats and dogs will not understand the frenzy of a holiday at first and become scared, maybe even aggressive. A new home stresses out any animal and therefore their immune system is lowered and it is easy for sickness to strike. Donít forget, accidents can happen, especially to a young animal. How sad if something were to happen to your new pet, especially if you have children. And it happens every year.

So be cognizant of the fact that the animal requires care and consideration. Most parents are so wrapped up in making Christmas perfect for their children, they forget the basic needs of an animal. You can balance it out, with just a little thought.

If you can offer a home to a new pet in need this Christmas season, visit our website and call to come and meet some of our young (or old) kitties who are waiting for a lap of their own. You will add to everyone's holiday, especially the homeless animals.

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