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A pet for Christmas is a serious decision

Living with a pet during the coronavirus pandemic makes life more bearable and more fun for the entire family. Living without one, if you’re used to having a pet your whole life, can make the days more mundane and less lively.

That makes the decision of whether to get a pet this Christmas more important than usual.

Each Christmas season, children (and a few adults) across the country include in their requests to Santa a dog, cat, rabbit or other living creature. They want a lovable, cuddly pet. They promise they will feed it, walk it, clean up after it, take it to the vet and love it. They have no idea how much that will cost, or how much time and attention that will mean … they just want a pet.

Some gift-givers fall for it. Then, a few weeks later, when the novelty has worn off, the first bag of pet food is empty and/or it is time for that trip to the vet … a decision is made. Once-begged-for animals find themselves dropped off at animal shelters, or worse, neglected or abused.

Maybe they get tied outside. Maybe they don’t get the medical care they need. Maybe they are “driven to a farm.”

Of course some pets given as gifts are wonderfully loved and taken care of, and live happy lives with their new families. But that only happens when some important steps have been taken.

Bringing a pet into a family must be a whole-family decision. There shouldn’t be any surprises (except, perhaps, for the very little ones). Everyone should agree on their roles in taking care of the pet beforehand — and the gift-giver must be willing to take on all responsibilities for the animal, financial and otherwise. Yes, that means scrubbing the carpet after “accidents.”

Are you really ready for all that? If so, great. There are plenty of dogs and cats awaiting new homes at local animal shelters. But if you have any hesitation at all, don’t do it. If and when you are truly ready to welcome a pet into your home, there still will be plenty of furry companions available.

To learn more about adopting a pet at the Tri-Lakes Humane Society in Saranac Lake, visit online at https://www.trilakeshumanesociety.org/adopt. The shelter has links to the Petfinder.com and Adopt-a-Pet.com websites.

Likewise, the North Country SPCA in Elizabethtown is a resource for adopting pets: http://www.ncspca.org/.

If you don’t find a pet to your liking in one of those shelters, there are other shelters in the North Country you can visit.

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