Holidays too hectic to add pets in the mix, advocates say
BROWNSVILLE — With Christmas approaching, it may seem as though finding a puppy tucked away under the tree would be the perfect way to top off the holiday season. But local animal advocates advise against getting a pet during this busy time of year without careful planning.
Brownsville Animal Defense President Tessie Sarmiento was at PetSmart on Saturday for the organization’s weekly adoption drive. While the group aims to find a forever home for every adoptable dog, she said potential pet owners need to take the time commitment of getting a dog or cat into consideration before taking one home.
“ I don’t think the holidays are a good time to adopt anything. There are too many distractions that take us away from the proper care of this animal,” she said.
Dogs must be fed, walked, trained and taken to veterinarian appointments, Sarmiento said, which can be tough to do with the number of family events that take place around Christmas.
Brownsville Animal Defense Member Maurice Kindur said people looking to adopt puppies around 6 months old should be aware they especially need an attentive trainer at that age.
“ Otherwise, you end up with a puppy with a behavior problem that drives you around the bend, and it ends up in the pound,” he said.
Kim Warnuek, operations director for the Humane Society of Harlingen, largely echoed Sarmiento and Kindur’s advice.
“ We see it in the humane society, not just ours but across the country,” she said. “A lot of people discover weeks after that they’re not able to manage the responsibility, and we get an influx of a lot of animals in January and February because of that issue.”
People looking for a pet that is more self-sufficient should consider a cat, kitten or adult dog that has moved past the teething stage, Warnuek said. She also advised against giving a pet as a gift.
“ A pet is a lifetime commitment, and it is a very personal decision to pick something to go into your home and into your family for the next 10 years,” she said, adding that the humane society offers gift certificates as an alternative. “They have time to interact with pets before they get home, so we make sure we get everybody the right fit.”
For those who are set on adopting a pet this holiday season, Kindur said new pet parents should take the same household precautions as if they were bringing home a baby. Make sure wires and chemicals like antifreeze are out of reach.
When it comes to what type of pet is right for a household Sarmiento said small dogs typically are not a good match for families with small children. They may want to pick up the dog and could hurt or drop it, and the dog would then bite the children.
Warnuek said people with children should remember that puppies play rough and bite.
“ For people with young children, we always recommend getting a more medium-sized dog because it’s a little less intimating for the kids,” she said. “The pet itself is a little more sturdy so that if a toddler falls on it or something like that, as oppose to a small breed dog, it’s not going to get injured.”
People who live in apartments or townhouses should consider smaller dogs or cats, Warnuek advised, which need less space, exercise or time outside. Pet owners should also remember to get their pets microchipped so that animals that get outside as holiday visitors come and go can be easily returned home.
“ Always we want to make sure that they’re prepared for the fact that this is a lifetime commitment and that we match them a pet that’s going to work with their family’s lifestyle,” she said.