Pets as Christmas gifts may not be the best idea

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Augusta, GA (WJBF)- Many parents plan to get their children a pet for Christmas. But is it a good idea? An Augusta animal clinic and shelter says probably not.

“Please don’t. Please don’t get pets. Pets are not for Christmas. Pets are not for holidays. Pets are forever. You have to be able to make your time, make sure they have a lifelong place to be,” said Loretta Emmons, owner of Heartsong Spay and Neuter Clinic, one of the only all species sanctuaries in Georgia.

Emmons thinks it’s a better idea to wait until after the holidays to get a new pet. She said a lot of times people’s hearts are in the right place, but the holidays can be dangerous for a new pet.

Things like Christmas trees and poinsettias can be poisonous to pets. Some end up at the emergency vet because they were fed a holiday food that it poisonous to them as well.

Emmons believes it’s also better to bring an animal home during a more normal schedule to see how they fit in with your family.

“But wait until after the tree is down and those sorts of things, because its very dangerous for the pets. When you go into the shelter, spend time with the animal. Don’t just walk past the cages and go, ‘oh that one’s cute, I want that one.’ Because that cute dog might not be well trained, he might be a biter. There’s all sorts of things. And when you do take a dog home, give them time to acclimate,” she said.

The ASPCA recommends before you get an animal for someone else you should make sure that person wants a new pet first.

You should also make sure a new pet will fit into that person’s lifestyle. Parents getting a new pet for a child should be ready to take full responsibility for the animal’s care.

Jennifer Miller is president of Friends of the Animal Shelter in Aiken. She agrees with Emmons that giving a pet as a gift isn’t always a good idea, but with the right information and vetting, it can work out.

“Well, we are very careful about that because a pets a big responsibility, especially a puppy or a kitten. They need a lot of time and once Christmas is over, people go back to work and school. Who’s going to take care of the puppy? So, we really try to educate any potential adopter and we find we’re pretty successful at our education,” explained Miller.

Right now the Aiken County Animal Shelter and FOTAS is hosting a fostering event for Aiken County residents over the holidays. The shelter will be closed for four days and they hope to send some shelter animals home for the holidays so they aren’t alone for so long.

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