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Expert: Pets Make Great Gifts, Not Great Surprise Gifts

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Expert: Pets Make Great Gifts, Not Great Surprise Gifts

Many parents may be considering giving a puppy or kitten as a Christmas morning gift, but you need to think through that idea carefully first.

Cookeville Animal Shelter Director Jenifer Tracy said the return of animals after the holidays is not as bad a problem as it once was. Tracy said education and being proactive have both contributed to the decline in returned pets after the holidays. Tracy said in the past she dreaded the days after the holidays because of the increase of pets being brought in.

“Once upon a time we certainly saw it,” Tracy said. “I think pets make wonderful gifts. I don’t think they make good surprises, and I think people are being more thoughtful about that now. When I first started in this we sort of dreaded the holiday adoption surge.”

Tracy said it is important to communicate with the person you plan to get a pet for to make sure it is something they want and can handle. Tracy said they offer gift certificates to help people provide a gift for someone without picking out a surprise pet. Tracy said it is important for people and families to come in and pick their own pet to ensure there is a bond.

“We love to have pet companions,” Tracy said. “It’s good for our health. It lowers blood pressure petting a critter. Playing with them, walking your dog can ward off things like diabetes and high blood pressure. Cats, just petting them lowers blood pressure.”

Tracy said people need to consider what they have going on during the holidays before they decide to adopt a pet for the season.

“With Christmas time there is a lot of stuff going on in most households,” Tracy said. “One must consider if it really is the best time to introduce a pet. You got to consider the other pets in the home. You got to consider the automatic cost of acquiring another pet and factor all those things in to figure out if that’s the right move to make.”

Tracy said if you have other pets it is important to bring those pets to meet your potential new pet before making adoption official.

“We strongly encourage the dogs be allowed to meet prior to finalize the adoption,” Tracy said. “We encourage the central adopter to bring their existing dog here to the shelter. It’s not a grantee their won’t be problems, but if there’s any instant red flags at least we’ll see that.”

Tracy said it is important for adopters to know for sure that a pet is right for them. She said returning a pet to the shelter is very stressful on the animal.

“It’s about education and counseling and following the right steps, because a shelter animal has already been through the stress of coming to the shelter, being in the shelter, in some cases they go to the vet to get fixed before going to their new home,” Tracy said. “That’s a lot, and they need a little time to get settled in before being overwhelmed with other stuff.”


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