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Shelter pets make great gifts

One must be 100 percent committed to a new pet, Kelley said. Her group, Paws Crossed Pet Rescue, helps pets in their time of need.

One must be 100 percent committed to a new pet, Kelley said. Her group, Paws Crossed Pet Rescue, helps pets in their time of need.

STORY BY NICOLE BURNS

What’s on your child’s Christmas list? Edith Kelley with Paws Crossed Pet Rescue said most kids have the same thing in mind. “Pups are pretty popular Christmas gifts. According to the Internet, they’re in the top 10 for what kids asked for. Dogs were on every single list.”

And while Kelley doesn’t want to discourage anyone from adopting a pet this Christmas, she does want to arm you with all the information you need before caving to those puppy dog eyes – both your child’s and the puppy they’re pointing to.

“Most people want to adopt puppies,” said Kelley. “Christmas is a very busy time. It’s chaotic. Bringing a new pup into a home, and they’re scared, and they’re not trained. It’s cold at Christmas. It gets dark early. They require a lot of time, potty training, and that means all hours in the night. It is like having a baby.”

Kelley said many people emotionally adopt puppies before considering the responsibility that comes with pet ownership. “They’re cute and they’re cuddly, but as soon as they start having accidents in the house they become a problem, and then they bark, and then they cry. People start changing their minds real fast.”

What worries Kelley the most is that several months into the New Year, the city will begin to see an increase in feral animals roaming the streets. “There’s a lot of information out there that points to puppies, several months after Christmas, going into shelters because of those reasons,” said Kelley.

To avoid abandoned animals, Kelley has some great tips for everyone to consider before adopting a pet this Christmas.

• Commit to the time.

“If families are busy, we’re all busy right now. If you’re not going to be home 10 hours a day and you’re going to have a pup, or any type of dog, dog ownership is probably not the best bet for that family.”

• Consider a wide range of pet adoptions.

“I would really recommend looking at middle to older dogs because a lot of them do have some kind of training. Of course, you have to check for socialization to make sure they get along well with your environment depending on how high energy the home is. Some of the dogs have been surrendered for reasons that are not always bad reasons so they come house trained and they’ve had vaccinations and they’ve been spayed and neutered. They can be a really really good fit for a family who may be too busy to handle a young pup.”

• Shop the shelter and local rescues first.

“In our area here, we have four rescues with all different missions. I would check out our animal control here. They do have some quality dogs there. The rescues have a lot of dogs. We have pit bull rescues, we have a rescue that does all of Escambia County, we have a rescue that specializes in hunting dogs, and my rescue is small but we take from local people. That’s my mission. All of us have pets, but all require a fee to adopt. These are usually throwaway pets. People got rid of them because they didn’t want them, they got tired of them for various reasons, or some of them have just gotten lost and just need to be placed in homes.”

• Consider the financial commitment.

“I think you have to be 100 percent all in because it’s not just the time commitment, it’s the financial commitment. There is quite a bit of expense to have a dog altered, spayed or neutered, and to get all its immunizations done. There’s a yearly requirement because you have to keep up with those immunizations to keep your dog healthy.”

Santa may have good intentions bringing home “Bowser” for your little ones, but Kelley said parents need to be strong enough to say no if it’s not the right time. “If you don’t have the time and you don’t have the income at this time in your life, it might be something to put aside for later.”