BYH-I am so tired of going to stores at University Commons and having someone come to me in the parking lot to ask for...

Storm: Think carefully before giving pets as gifts


Ollie relaxes in the sun. The love of a pet is a wonderful thing, but giving pets as a gift requires serious consideration.


By Janet Storm
The Daily Reflector

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Christmas is hurtling toward us like a driver through a yellow light on Greenville Boulevard. And as always seems to be the case, my social media feeds have been flooded with videos of people receiving dogs as holiday gifts.

There is truly no greater present than the love of a loyal canine companion, yet these videos often make me feel uneasy. Every day, animals are dumped at shelters across this country because they “got too big,” families “just don’t have time” to devote to their care or even because they got older and have been declared “not much fun anymore.” I’m not saying that will be the fate of all the animals gifted at Christmas, but it bears consideration.

There are several important things to consider when adopting any animal. The first is that the commitment is a long one — many dogs live a dozen or more years and cats often live even longer. I consider every year of my own little dogs’ lives to be a blessing, but if the thought of spending that long caring for any creature gives you pause you might not be ready to adopt.

Second, animals are going to cost you some money. They need decent food, vaccinations, boarding when you are away, grooming, medical attention, collars, leashes and other gear, and — in the case of my little angels — toys, snacks and about six blankets apiece to drag around the house. All this adds up.

What else? Time. Animals need attention, affection and exercise, just as people do. In my case, this is a very good thing. Ollie and Einstein get me off the couch and out walking the neighborhood every day. I have met new people and seen more of the community. On the other hand, if your family is always on the go, you may end up locking that adorable puppy away in a kennel for most of the day, which is simply unfair. Consider your schedule before you decide to adopt.

One more thing you’ll need is patience. Animals need to be trained, and even the best of them may have accidents in the house, chew up a favorite pair of shoes, steal an unattended cheeseburger or knock over a lamp. If you can’t handle such small disasters with a sigh or a time out, there’s probably a robotic pet out there better suited to being your companion than an actual living creature.

Still ready to adopt? Great! Then allow me to make a special plea: There are many loving, deserving animals in local shelters and rescues who need a home. Check them out before deciding to purchase a pet. All sorts of breeds are available — including many pure breeds. The late, great Clifford, a dachshund I cherished for 16 years, was rescued from a shelter in Alabama. Both Ollie and Einstein are rescues, and I have received many compliments from people on their good natures and adorable looks. I hit the jackpot and I feel sure you can too, if you just give shelter or rescue dogs and cats a look.

One more thing — if you do adopt, get your animal spayed or neutered. It not only will help control the pet population, it also will help keep your beloved companion healthier and happier. The great thing is, if you adopt from a shelter or rescue, the surgery will most likely be included with the adoption fee.

Here’s to the unconditional love a pet can bring — and the commitment needed to make that love a lasting gift. 

Contact Janet Storm at jstorm@reflector.com or 252-329-9587.

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